30 chocolate wafers (see Ingredient Notes)
2 tablespoons chopped pitted dates
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 large egg
1/2 cup 1% milk
8 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, divided
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dried egg whites (see Ingredient notes), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 3 egg whites)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Chocolate shavings (see Tip), optional
Preheat oven to 325F.
Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
For the crust: Combine chocolate wafers and dates in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add water and oil and process until moistened. Press into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan.
Bake the crust until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the filling and garnish: Combine coffee and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and set aside to soften.
Whisk egg, milk, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and cocoa in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 160F, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not let the mixture come to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Add the reserved gelatin mixture; stir until dissolved. Add chocolate and vanilla, stirring until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 5 tablespoons brown sugar, beating until the meringue is smooth and glossy.
Whisk one-fourth of the meringue into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Scrape chocolate mixture into the remaining meringue and use a whisk to incorporate it with a folding motion. Spoon into the crust and chill, uncovered, until set, about 3 hours.
If desired, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.
Ingredient Notes: Many commercial cookies and wafers contain partially hydrogenated oil, a source of trans-fatty acids. Fortunately, brands made without these oils, such as Newmans Own Organics and Mi-Del, are every bit as tasty. Look for them in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets.
Dried egg whites, such as Just Whites, reconstituted, can be substituted for fresh egg whites.
Tip: To make chocolate shavings: Place a block of chocolate (2 ounces or larger) on wax paper and microwave on Defrost until slightly softened but not melted, 15 to 30 seconds. Use a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler to shave off curls. If the chocolate gets to hard to shave easily, warm it again.