Craving Stranger Things: Try the Vintage Pie Winona Ryder Couldn't Resist

Lori Lamothe

I've been a fan of Winona Ryder since Girl, Interrupted so it's been satisfying to watch her comeback as the kooky Joyce Byers in Stranger Things. If you've already watched volume one of season 4, you probably know you've got to wait until early July for volume two to drop. Ryder also stars in the upcoming thriller Gone in the Night but that won't be out until July 15.

Like many fans of the Netflix series, I find its nostalgia as appealing as its plot. The setting reminds me of my own childhood, of those seemingly endless summer days and nights when the world felt freer. According to series creator Matt Duffer, Ryder is as nostalgic about the past as the rest of us but she's probably more knowledgeable:

"Winona is an obsessive movie fanatic, And she’s particularly knowledgeable in terms of movies from the ‘80s. She loves that era. She grew up there. She has a deeper knowledge of those movies than we do, actually,"

So how can you get your 80s fix before July? One solution might be to make The Black Dog Tavern's old-fashioned fudge-bottom pie, which Ryder "couldn't resist" when she vacationed at Martha's Vineyard back in the day.

I still remember when my mom first made the no-bake recipe, which appeared in the July 2000 issue of McCall's Magazine. "It's Winona Ryder's favorite pie," she told my family when she served the decadent dessert shortly after she read about the star's visits to the tavern and her fondness for the popular menu item. Though the tavern no longer makes the pie, you can check out their other incredible desserts here.

It wasn't until much later that I made the recipe myself and, to be honest, I more or less forgot about it for years. When Stranger Things premiered back in 2016, I remembered Ryder, remembered her pie and decided to give it a go. It was as rich and chocolatey as it was the first time my mom served me a slice. The dense, dark fudge bottom contrasts perfectly with the creamy vanilla filling. Likewise, the crunchy graham cracker crust works well with the smooth bittersweet ganache and the lighter, sweeter pudding. The layered dessert also looks gorgeous.

Here's the original recipe that ran in the July 2000 issue of McCall's, which my mom still has, of course.

Fudge-Bottom Pie


1 cup graham-cracker crumbs

2 tbsp. confectioner's sugar

3 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 lb. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup heavy cream


1 pint (2 cups) each heavy cream and light cream

2 (3.4 oz.) packages instant vanilla pudding mix

Garnish (optional)

Unsweetened cocoa powder or chocolate shavings


1. Crust: In bowl, mix crumbs and sugar. Stir in butter. Press evenly over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Put into freezer.

2. Ganache: Place chocolate in medium bowl. In small saucepan, heat cream until small bubbles appear around the edges. Pour over chocolate and let stand for five minutes. Whisk until ganache is smooth. Remove crust from freezer and pour ganache into center. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3. Filling: In large bowl, mix heavy and light creams. Add pudding mix. Beat on high speed until thick and smooth yet billowy. Spoon over chocolate layer, mounding at the center. With icing spoon, swirl top to form peaks. Place uncovered in freezer until frozen, about 4 to 6 hours.

4. To serve, let thaw about 15 minutes. Garnish with cocoa or chocolate shavings. (Tip: Be sure to let this thaw long enough or it will be difficult to cut because of the ganache.)


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Writer, assistant professor, former baker. I cover cold cases, history, recipes, and culture. If you have a story idea you'd like me to investigate, you can email me at


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