Today’s pie is Chocolate Pecan Pie from Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet.
If you’d like more Medrich-mediated baking, listen to her tips for jazzing up a simple press-in pie crust.
And you can click here to enter YOUR delicious pie (or pies) in the 5th Annual Good Food Pie Contest on Saturday, September 7th at LACMA.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
(Excerpted from Bittersweet by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2003.)
Serves 8 to 10
FOR THE CRUST
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1⁄4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
FOR THE FILLING
2 cups (7 ounces) pecan halves
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1⁄4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rum, bourbon, or brandy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
A 9-inch glass pie pan
To make the crust: Thoroughly mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter into successively smaller pieces, scraping the bottom of the bowl and tossing the pieces to coat and separate them with flour as you work, until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas and the rest bread-crumb size. (Do not let the butter melt or form a paste.) Drizzle 1⁄4 cup cold water over the flour mixture, mixing with a rubber spatula or a fork, folding and pressing the dough to distribute the moisture. If necessary, drizzle in some or all of the remaining 1 tablespoon water, until the dough is just moist enough to hold together when pressed. Use your hands to compress the dough into a flat disk, pressing in any loose pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or for up to 3 days.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it stand until it is pliable enough to roll without cracking. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14- to 15-inch circle about 1⁄8 inch thick, rotating and dusting the surface with flour to keep it from sticking. Brush the excess flour from the rolled-out circle, fold the circle into quarters, and transfer it to the pie pan. Unfold, easing the pastry into the pan without stretching it. Trim the overhang to about 1 inch. Turn the excess dough under and flute or crimp the edge. Refrigerate for least 30 minutes before baking. (Reserve a few dough scraps for later patching if necessary.)
Toast the nuts while the dough is chilling: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 9 minutes, until fragrant and lightly colored. Set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 400°F and let preheat.
Press a 12-inch square of foil, shiny side down, against the bottom and up the sides of the crust. Tent the edges of the foil over (not touching) the edges of the crust, like an awning, to prevent overbrowning. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, piercing right through the foil. Fill the foil-lined crust with dried beans or pie weights.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Remove the foil liner and weights. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more, until the bottom of the crust is golden brown.
While the crust is baking, make the filling: Combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the brown sugar, salt, rum, and vanilla. Add the eggs and stir until the mixture is well blended and hot to the touch. Set the double boiler aside, stirring the filling from time to time.
When the crust is baked, remove it from the oven. (Leave the oven on.) If necessary, press bits of reserved dough into any holes or cracks in the crust. Pour the pecans into the crust and the hot filling over the nuts.
Bake until the filling is puffed and cracked at the edges and brown in patches but still jiggles in the center when nudged, 10 to 12 minutes. A knife inserted in the pie will emerge very gooey. If the edges of the crust are browning too fast before the pie is done, cover with a 12-inch square of foil with a 7-inch circle cut out from its center. Cool the pie on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
CHOCOLATE NOTES: It takes very little chocolate to make the balance of flavors work. You can use standard bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (without a percentage on the label), or any marked 50% to 64%.
To use chocolate marked 66% to 72% instead of standard bittersweet: Use 11⁄2 ounces chocolate.
To use unsweetened (or 99%) chocolate instead of standard bittersweet: Use 1 ounce chocolate.