We all have our kryptonite-glazed windmills and I guess mine just might be chocolate pecan pie. What’s not to obsess about filling that is so decadently silky with hits of boozy bourbon, creamy bittersweet choooocolate, and crunchy rich pecans? I doubt that this dish will count towards your longevity inducing nut quota but it sure does hit the spot when your sweet tooth is acting up. The hubster has unabashedly declared this to be the best chocolate pecan pie in the universe but can you really discount Alpha Centauri? ;) My problem with most of versions I’ve tried is that they tend to be cloyingly treacly sweet yet anemic on flavor, a crust that tastes stale the next day, and less commonly an overabundance of murky molasses-y undertones. So in
my pathologic the tradition of tinkering, I’ve modified a recipe from The Neelys by cutting down on the sweetness by 1/3 and switching out half of the dark corn syrup for light corn syrup. You still get some of that molasses-y depth without feeling like you’ve dipped your tongue in a bottle of Angostura. I’ve increased the pecans and bourbon a smidge cuz, um they’re good for you? Okay, maybe not the bourbon. Instead of the traditional pie crust, I’ve opted for a more decadent chocolate pâte brisée crust, friable and rich like shortbread but slightly more elastic and poufy from the addition of egg yolk. (And yes, I mostly eat healthy food but chintzing on dessert doesn’t pay in the end unless you’re into multipurpose food that also serves as inedible coasters. If you’re going to eat dessert, eat actual dessert and make up for it on that next bike ride. Shut up legs! Do what I tell you to do!) So in the end you get a crust that tastes scrumptious in a buttery, crumbly chocolatey way but when utilized as a vehicle for velvety chocolate pecan pie filling? Delicious and it still tastes yummy and crunchety the next day. I don’t know about day 3 cuz the hubby has devoured half of the pie so far and it was just made last night …. To quote one half of the Coen brothers
We create monsters and then we can’t control them.
Tricks of the trade:
1) I like to use a tart pan with a removable bottom. Great presentation and pain free but if you don’t have one a regular quiche pan works as well. Since the pâte brisée is somewhat fragile, you need the fluting from the pan to give it structural support which you won’t get from the angled sides of a traditional pie tin. I’m also a sucker for a higher crust to filling ratio (which also helps to keep it from getting too sugary sweet).
2) Wait, you’re going to poke holes into something that’s supposed to hold liquidy filling? Yup. Lightly scoring the crust evenly with a fork keeps the crust from puffing up too much and turning into an alpine landscape and the filling will stay in the crust and not ooze everywhere, just don’t gouge out big holes or outright tear the crust and you’ll be fine. For reals.
3) I always like to set a timer when toasting nuts as it’s embarrassingly easy to forget about them and who wants a house reeking of burnt nuts?
Chocolate Pâte Brisée Crust
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa (I prefer Droste brand)
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt or 1/8 tsp table salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, in 1/2-inch cubes, straight from the refrigerator
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325F.
Whisk flour, cocoa, sugar, and sea salt together in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry cutter or with your fingers in you have cold hands like me :) The mixture should resemble sand. Mix in egg yolk which will give the dough the consistency of play-doh. Press dough into a 10-inch tart pan so that it forms an even layer ~1/3-inch thick across the bottom and up to the top of the sides (just pinch off any edges that are too tall). Lightly poke evenly across dough with a fork and bake till slightly puffy ~10-12 minutes. With a metal tart tin and convection it takes me 11 minutes. Set tart aside to cool.
Chocolate Pecan Pie Filling
1 2/3 c pecan halves
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt or 1/8 tsp table salt
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c bourbon
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/4 c dark corn syrup
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread pecans on a baking sheet. Toast pecans till aromatic and slightly darker in color ~2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl whisk eggs till light yellow. Add brown sugar, sea salt, flour, vanilla extract, bourbon, light & dark corn syrup, and butter then mix till well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and cooled pecans. Pour filling into cooled crust and bake till filling is set with no jiggling when you tap the edge of the pan or a sharp knife inserted into the filling comes out clean ~15-20 minutes. If you have leftover filling you can pour it into ramekins and bake them separately as little snacks. With a metal tart tin and convection it takes me 15 minutes. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Makes 8-10 servings unless you live with a pie pig, then you might get 4 servings if you’re lucky and willing to risk a limb or two.