Although I had planned our Thanksgiving pies: Dorie's Twofer pie and two of our all-time favorites: my mom's apple pie, and our dark and spicy pumpkin pie, I ended up with an unexpected opportunity to squeeze in another kind of pie. My sister-in-law became ill just before they were to host her side of the family for Thanksgiving. I offered to help with cooking and found out that what they really needed was pie.
My brother jokingly hinted for a chocolate pecan pie. He'd eaten one years ago, and really loved it. I did a bit of online research and found this recipe for Texas Chocolate and Pecan Pie - from the March, 2000 Bon Appetit.
- I decided to try the Cook's Illustrated pie dough (I found it in the Fall Entertaining 2008 issue, but you can find the recipe online, eg., here). This crust has a secret ingredient: vodka. Apparently the alcohol keeps excess gluten from forming. The extra liquid makes the dough soft and pliable (it's a dream to roll). In the oven the alcohol evaporates and the pie is left with flaky crust.
- I substituted golden syrup for the light corn syrup. I do that pretty routinely. Golden syrup has a mellower flavor, and is not as sweet as corn syrup.
- My dark brown sugar supply was low, so I used 1/4 c. light brown sugar and 1/4 c. dark muscavado sugar
- Along with the butter, I melted 2 oz Valrhona semisweet (56%) and 2 oz Nestles semisweet chocolate chips.
- When I mixed up the filling, I snuck a little taste and thought it could use a bit more chocolate. To boost the chocolate quotient I sprinkled mini chips over the pecans before pouring in the liquid filling. Some of them floated to the top of the pie, which you can see in the photo above.
- I studded the top of the pie with a few tiny pecan halves.
- The pie baked 50 minutes (I think...)
- I saved enough of the dough and the filling to make 2 mini tartlets - I lined one tart crust with pecan pieces and one with chocolate chips. I placed tiny pecans on the tops. These baked for 30 minutes.
A.L.E. and I each had a tart as a Thanksgiving prelude, while we were cooking. This is a seriously delicious pie!!!
The last time I'd eaten a chocolate pecan pie I hadn't cared for it. I think the switch from light corn syrup to golden cane syrup was a good one, keeping it from being too sweet while adding a certain richness of flavor.
This may not replace my usual pecan pie, which is made with maple syrup, but it ranks right up there next to it.
And can I tell you how fabulous this pie crust recipe is? Wow, it was easy to put together, and easy to roll and handle. It is amazingly flaky, and very tender. All due to the vodka. I'll do a taste test with Dorie's crust when I post the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie!
[update: find the taste test at the end of the Twofer Pie post]