I’ve never been a big fan of pecan pie; it’s a little too rich and too sweet for me. So imagine my surprise when, with an extra pie crust and some time on my hands a couple Thanksgivings ago, I made a chocolate nut pie (straight out of Joy of Cooking) and, voila! Neither too rich nor too sweet! It tastes like a nice fudgey brownie inside a pie crust. Now it’s a standard part of our Thanksgiving menu.
I made this with hickory nuts, which are smaller and more flavorful than pecans, but the only source for them I know is my dad, who gathers them every fall and painstakingly shells them. You can also use pecans.
Prepare one 9″ pre-baked pie crust (recipe below).
Preheat the oven to 375.
Spread on a baking sheet:
2 c nuts (hickory or pecan), coarsely chopped
Toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 6-10 minutes. Cool slightly.
Chop 6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (or a combination) and melt. Set aside.
Whisk until blended:
3 large eggs
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c corn syrup
1 T melted butter
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
Whisk one quarter of the filling into the melted chocolate, then blend the result into the remaining filling. Stir in the toasted nuts. Warm the prebaked pie crust in the oven until it is hot to the touch, then pour in the filling. Bake until the edges are slightly puffed and the center seems set but still soft, 25-30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
There are plenty of other recipes for pie crust, and some may well be better, but this is the one I remember, and it tastes perfectly delicious to me.
For one crust:
Whirl in the food processor (fitted with steel blade) for a few seconds:
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 t sugar
1/2 c cold solid shortening (I use half butter, half vegetable shortening), cut into small chunks
Pulse in the food processor in short bursts until the fat is the size of small peas.
With the machine off, drizzle 3-4 T ice water over the top and pulse again until the dough begins to clump into small balls. Press the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so.
To prebake crust, preheat oven to 400.
Roll the chilled dough out and fit it into your pan. If your kitchen is warm or you’ve spent more than a few minutes rolling out the dough, stick the pan of dough into the fridge for 15 minutes or so to chill.
Smooth a sheet of aluminum foil over the bottom and sides of the crust, flaring the excess foil out over the edge to keep it from overbrowning. Fill the liner with raw beans, rice, or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Now carefully lift the foil with the weights out of the pie pan, prick the crust all over with a fork, and return to the oven to bake until golden brown, an additional 5-10 minutes. Check the crust occasionally to make sure it doesn’t puff up along the bottom (prick it again with a fork, then press down with the back of a spoon if it does, but if the crust was nice and cold going into the oven, you shouldn’t have this problem).
Whisk together, and brush the inside of the crust with a glaze of
1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt
Return to the oven to set the glaze (1-2 minutes), then fill the shell while hot.