Sharing her grandmother’s legacy and recipe
For entrepreneur and fashion designer Whitney Port — star of MTV’s “The Hills: New Beginnings” — mealtime was when she and her family connected, and their table was always full.
“Even with five kids and my grandparents living with us, we all sat together at the table to eat dinner, and it was usually something that my grandma had made,” Port says.
Her grandmother “Bucka” was a talented cook, but her specialty was desserts. Pies and cakes marked important occasions in their house, Port says, and Bucka always made them memorable.
“When it was someone’s birthday, she would make a custom cake and decorate it with real flowers and icing. She always put a personal touch on it,” Port says.
Bucka was an anchor in Port’s life, someone who she could talk to about anything. Bucka also inspired her to pursue her passion for design and writing. When Bucka was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease while Port was in college, she was devastated.
“For so long, she had known everything about my life,” Port says. “For a person you relied on and love so much to not be there anymore, even though their body is there, was really, really hard.”
Though Bucka died from Alzheimer’s in 2015, her legacy remains an important part of Port’s life, particularly when it comes to her son, 4-year-old Sonny. Each year on Sonny’s birthday, Port bakes him a special homemade cake just like Bucka made for her.
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“My grandma started that tradition and it’s something that I want to keep going,” she says.
Like Bucka, Port sees food as a way to honor her family and connect.
“With Sonny being a little older, we try to all sit down at the table together because there’s really no other moment in the day you can have that quality time,” Port says. “Food, to me, represents making that space and that time to connect.”
Bucka's Chocolate Turtle Pie
“The chocolate turtle pie is something that I haven’t had in a long time, but when I saw the recipe, it immediately took me back to my childhood. I feel like food is one of those things that just brings you back to those moments and those memories and that time.”
— Whitney Port
2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (18 cookies)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup caramel candies (20 caramels)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups pecan pieces
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or 4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together the ingredients for the cookie crust. Press the crust evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. If necessary, re-press the crust into place with a wooden spoon. Cool on a wire rack.
Prepare the caramel filling by melting the caramels in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Stir in cream. Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Spread evenly over the prepared crust. Refrigerate until set, at least 10 minutes.
Make the pie topping by melting the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir in cream. Drizzle finished topping over the pie filling. Refrigerate the completed pie for at least 1 hour. Serves 12.