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!