words & photos :: Feet Banks
It’s getting hot out there this summer so the Pie of the Month is a twist on a cool Canadian classic: Billy Miner Pie!
First things first though, despite the fact that he pulled British Columbia’s first ever train robbery in (or around) 1904, Bill Miner was actually an American bandito with a long history of robbing stagecoaches, banks, trains, and whatever else he damn well felt like all across the Western US.
After slipping over the border to evade the law, and netting $6000 in gold dust, $1000 in cash and a reported $300,000 in negotiable bonds and securities from that 1904 train robbery in Silverdale, BC (about 35km east of Vancouver), Miner and two accomplices, Shorty Dunn and Louis Colquhoun, attempted to rob a payroll train near Monte Creek, BC, (just east of Kamloops) but escaped with only $15 and a bottle of Kidney Pills (whatever the fuck those are, I guess they were deemed valuable enough to grab in the early 1900s).
With a posse of lawmen in hot pursuit, Miner and his gang rattled around the bush adjacent to the infamous Douglas Lake Ranch for a few days before being surprised and apprehended. Shorty Dunn took a bullet but Miner, it is said, never drew his gun. He was convicted and incarcerated in the provincial penitentiary in New Westminster, from which he promptly escaped, (probably) dug up some stashed loot from the old Mission robbery, and slipped back through the mountains into the US where he kept pulling jobs, kept getting caught, and kept escaping.
(Tangent: I used to live on a farm on the Douglas Lake Road and may have even crossed the historical tracks of Miner and his gang at some point as I explored the zone. As well, photographer Mark Gribbon and I channelled some of that renegade, Billy Miner spirit for an old snowboard trip we planned to shred pow on both sides of the US-Canada border (read Boarder Patrol for more on that).
In any case, Billy Miner is a god damned legend, and reportedly the first ever robber to say “Hands up!” while on the job. Author Peter Grauber wrote a definitive book on Miner’s time in Canada called Interred with their Bones and in 1982 Philip Borsos made an excellent (Canadian) film about him called The Grey Fox. There’s also this (kinda dumb) National Film Board vignette below…
…and perhaps most epic of all, The Keg restaurants named their go-to desert Billy Miner Pie. And that’s what we’re getting into this month, with a twist. The Keg’s (utterly delicious) version is more of a fancy ice cream cake, made with an espresso or cappuccino flavoured ice cream but for our purposes we are going for more of a frozen layered cheesecake/mousse-y sorta vibe, based on a recipe first put up by Prairie Cooker, a mommy blogger in Winnipeg who I don’t know at all but she really provided the guiding light here.
DIY Billy Miner Pie
This Pie of the Month is a rich and cool treat for those hot summer nights on the run from the law, so get yourself a shitload of mixing bowls (I needed 5) and ride hard!
- 1.5 cups Oreo Cookie Crumbs
- 1/3 cup of butter
- ½ cup chocolate chips (I like regular sweet, not semi)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ½ cup of sugar (separate from the previous 1/3 cup)
- 12 ounces of cream cheese (about 1.5 of the regular size packages. Don’t fuck this part up though, weigh it out!)
- 1.5 cups whipping cream
- 3 eggs worth of egg whites, separated
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
- A bunch of fresh raspberries
- Sliced almonds (toasted)
- Chocolate & Caramel sauce (buy the Smuckers ice cream ones or make your own. I don’t care)
- You also need a 9” springfrom pan, a shitload of mixing bowls and an electric mixer, and a couple spatulas
Start with the crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350F, let your butter get kinda soft (not melted) and combine butter and Oreo crumbs. Mix well and press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes, let cool.
Make the Mousse:
- Melt the chocolate chips via double-boil technique and SET ASIDE.
- Beat all 3 egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Slowly add the ½ cup of sugar to the egg whites, beat until stiff. SET ASIDE
- In a new bowl: Whip the whipping cream (it helps if this bowl is chilled) SET ASIDE
- In a new bowl: Blend cream cheese, vanilla and the 1/3 cup of sugar. Add egg yolks and beat until everything is blended and creamy. SEPARATE HALF THIS MIXTURE INTO A NEW BOWL to facilitate separate flavour layers in our pie.
- Mix espresso powder with just enough hot water to dissolve it (1-2 tbsp is prob good) and add to FIRST HALF of cream cheese mixture (this will be the espresso/coffee layer)
- Add melted chocolate to OTHER HALF of cream cheese mixture (this will be the chocolate layer)
- Divide Whipped cream evenly into your two mixtures and mix gently until nicely blended.
- Pour/spread/spatula the Chocolate Mixture over the crust. Lightly shake/slide pan a bit to even it out.
- Pour/spread/spatula the Espresso mixture on top of the other mixture/layer.
- Freeze (ideally in a deep freeze not fridge-freezer) for 8 hours or over night
- Remove from freezer 30 mins before serving and let sit at room temp (or 4 hours in the fridge)
- Garnish with chocolate and caramel sauce and toasted almonds
- Run a knife under hot water
- Serve with fresh raspberries (or raspberries soaked in Brandy). This is important!!! The Raspberry flavour ties everything together.
Serves 10 because this fucker is richer than $300,000 in 1904 negotiable bonds (which, by 2021 standards, is coming up on $8 million if adjust for inflation). You don’t need large pieces!