Chocolate Pecan Pie
My wary eyes track the golden rays as they filter through wind-tossed leaves drawing longer and longer shadows across my yard. Perched at my sparse kitchen table – a make shift office of sorts – I am surrounded by large windows, portals to a busy, beautiful, changing outside. I slide down the bunched up sleeves on my thick cotton hoody; the large, old panes of glass do little to shield me from the dropping temperature.
Each evening I watch the days grow shorter and shorter. I watch leaves fall to their death and once resilient flowers shrivel up in a pain and fear of the coming freezes. Small distractions scurry by the windows, my eager eyes search for entertainment. Bored hands leave the incessant clicking and tapping of my keyboard behind in search of an excuse to get dirty. I slide a tattered and stained notebook from its place held carefully between a couple large pastry books. My fingers flip through flour-dusted pages looking for inspiration. My eyes notice my flaky pie crust dough recipe and quickly I decide on pie. At the recipe’s request I gather flour, salt, butter, lard and water.
Before I know it thoughts of work are long gone and another pie begins to bake into perfection. Once torturous, the emanating heat of a roaring oven now welcomes my cold body as I find excuses to make my way into the kitchen and away from work. I slide open the small oven door and bask in the heat falling out of the fireplace-in-a-box baking up another treat for me. The delightful aroma of baking pecans swarm my nose. The buttery smell of the crust dances through every inch of the house.
I place a slice of still steaming chocolate pecan pie near by, a lightly tarnished silver fork dangling off the ivory-white plate. I type a few words then take a bite. I look a few facts up then take a bite. I send an email and take a bite. As the sunlight fades into nothingness and as my eyes strain to focus on the computer screen, I focus more and more on each small bite. Delicious, silky chocolate flows around the sweet, molasses flavors, and sweet and bitter crunches of each scrumptious pecan. The flaky pie crust barely holding it all together dissolves flake by flake into a buttery puddle with each bite.
I may not like the shorter days, colder weather, bare trees and layers of clothes that accompany the changing seasons but I sure do love the pies the fill up my kitchen each autumn time.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 shallow pie dish
1 large bowl
1 whisk or wooden spoon
1 sharp knife
1 rolling pin
1 small cookie cutter (optional)
1 pie crust (recipe below)
2 1/2 ounces brown sugar
3 1/2 ounces corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 ounces pecans, roughly chopped
4 ounces chocolate – 60% cocoa – chopped
1. Preheat an oven to 375°F.
2. Roll out the pie dough and line a shallow pie dish – Don’t stretch the dough into the corners, fold and encourage it so that it falls into the corners. Cut the dough off at the top of the pie dish. Refrigerate the dough while you assemble the pie filling.
3. Mix together the sugar and corn syrup. Mix in each egg one at a time. Add the vanilla, melted butter and salt and mix in well.
4. Add the pecans and chocolate and mix well.
5. Pour the pie filling into the line pie dish.
6. Roll out the remaining pie dough and using a small square cookie cutter, cut out a couple dozen squares. Brush the bottom of the squares, and the top of the visible pie dough with egg wash. Assemble the top edge of the pie crust by placing slightly overlapping squares of dough around the outside of the pie dish. Press on the dough lightly to help it adhere to the pie dish crust. (This step is optional)
7. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until the pie is set. The middle may jiggle a little, but just barely.
8. Let cool before cutting.
Making pie dough from scratch, while a bit messy, is quite easy – especially your second time on. All you need is some counter space and a large bowl. Keep the ingredients cold before mixing, work quick and don’t over mix. I suggest rolling dough on lightly dusted parchment paper.
Flaky Pie Crust
1 Large Bowl
1 French Rolling Pin
8 ounces bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces unsalted butter, very cold,
2 ounces lard, very cold
3 tablespoons water, very cold
1. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, set aside. Cut the butter and lard into about 1/2″ cubes.
2. Add the cold butter and lard to the bowl. Pinch the butter and lard in between your fingers in the flour. Break apart the butter and lard and lightly mix into the flour until the fat is about pea size.
3. Add the cold water and lightly knead the dough just until it comes together. Don’t over mix. You should see chunks and strips of butter and lard in the dough.
4. Flatten the dough slightly and refrigerate the dough for a couple hours until the dough is firm enough to roll out.