It’s only been a year since I discovered that I actually do like pecan pie, and since then I have embraced this fact with open arms. Since I’m new to this sort of dessert, I didn’t know there was a way to improve upon it, but there is – add chocolate! The first time I ever heard of chocolate pecan pie, I was practically drooling. It came as no shock that we were crazy about this dessert.
While I truly enjoyed the classic pecan pie I made before, I think this version is even better. The method of cooking the filling before adding it to the partially baked pie crust helps give it a smoother texture. Baking at a lower temperature ensures that the whole pie bakes evenly rather than ending up with over-baked edges with an under-baked center. Using chopped pecans rather than pecan halves is definitely the way to go – they may not look as beautiful, but they are much more manageable to eat when chopped. Chopping the nuts in your food processor may seem like a good shortcut, but that can often chop them too finely. I prefer to do this by hand so I can control the size of the pieces, plus I have fun with my chef’s knife :) Toasting the nuts before adding them to the filling also helps enhance the flavor of the pecans, so don’t skip that step!
I would not advise just tossing some chocolate chunks on top of your usual pecan pie recipe. Pecan pie is incredibly sweet and rich as it is, and that can take it too far. The wonderful people at Cook’s Illustrated have accounted for the addition of the chocolate here by reducing the quantity and sweetness of the filling. The original recipe calls for equal parts white, semi-sweet and milk chocolate, but the white and milk chocolates just didn’t seem right to me in this context, so I replaced them with semi- and bittersweet. I loved it this way, but you can certainly add the white if it appeals to you. This is sure to be a hit at your Thanksgiving meal. Enjoy!
Double Chocolate Pecan Pie
For the crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into medium cubes (about 16 pieces)
3 tbsp. ice cold water
For the filling:
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
½ cup corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to combine. Add the cubes of butter to the bowl and mix on low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal and the largest chunks of butter are not much larger than peas. Add the water to the bowl and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until chilled.
On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the pie dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer the round to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pie pan. Trim the edges as necessary and create a fluted pattern using a finger to make the indentations. Freeze the dough-lined pie plate until firm and very cold, about 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to lower middle position and heat the oven to 375° F. Remove the dough-lined plate from the freezer, press a sheet of foil inside the pie shell and fill with ceramic baking beads. Bake about 30 minutes, until the dough looks dry and light in color. Carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue baking the crust 5-6 minutes more, until light golden brown.
While the pie crust is baking, make the filling. Melt the butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the double boiler but maintain the simmering water. Stir in the sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until the butter is absorbed. Beat in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Return the bowl to the double boiler and heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is shiny and hot to the touch, about 130° F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans.
As soon as the pie shell comes out of the oven, lower the oven temperature to 275° F. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Scatter the chopped chocolate pieces over the filling and press into the filling with the back of a spoon.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven about 50-60 minutes, until the pie looks set but slightly soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed with the back of a spoon. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 4 hours.