photograph by Matt Hulsman

NC Pie Series: What comes at the end is always remembered: the goodnight kiss, the famous last words, the three-point shot at the buzzer, the homemade pie following a fine meal. What’s a plate of flounder in Calabash or oysters on the Outer Banks without a slice of lemon meringue, served on a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork? Can you imagine a rib eye at the Angus Barn in Raleigh without the grand finale — that famous chocolate chess, drizzled with syrup, dolloped with whipped cream? What of the perfectly fried chicken at Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill, culminating with a slice of sweet potato or pecan? Sure, we love our cakes, cobblers, and banana puddings, but pie provides the sweetest memories. 

When Helen Odom thinks about Blanchard’s, long closed in Lumberton, she thinks about her junior prom. It was the spring of 1953. “We ate upstairs,” she remembers. “It was a place that we all enjoyed.” Claude and Janie Hall Blanchard had opened the restaurant a few years before, after moving back to North Carolina from Washington, D.C. Like many locals, Odom remembers celebrating milestones at Blanchard’s — and its peanut pie. Which started out as pecan pie, a recipe from Janie’s friend Lyda Lay Crawford Bullard.

To make the dessert more cost-effective, Janie switched to peanuts she got from Dublin, the state’s peanut capital. Those were mixed with Ritz cracker crumbs, sugar, and egg whites, then poured into a pie tin and baked. After it cooled, the pie was topped with whipped cream and grated bittersweet chocolate. While some bakers keep their recipes close, Blanchard’s gave this one to customers like they were family. Odom still has her card, stained from use and annotated with one handwritten word: Delicious.

Blanchard’s Peanut Pie

Courtesy of Helen Odom, a former Blanchard restaurant regular, who keeps the beloved recipe card close.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

20 Ritz Crackers, rolled out fine
1 cup of sugar
¾ cup of chopped peanuts
3 egg whites, beaten
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl, mix Ritz Crackers, ½ cup of sugar, and chopped peanuts.

Fold this mixture into the following: egg whites, cream of tartar, ½ cup of sugar, vanilla.

Bake in pie-tin for 20 minutes at 350º. Let cool. Top with whipped cream and grated bitter chocolate.

Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before serving.

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Emma Laperruque works as a food writer and recipe developer at Food 52 in New York City.