Chocolate Chess Pie

This pie has been on my list for a long time.  I wanted to make a silky smooth, custardy chocolate chess pie for when I needed pure chocolate goodness.

I’m thrilled with how this one turned out.  After debating the addition of espresso powder or other spices to mix things up, I decided to go pure, unadulterated chocolate (with some sea salt of course, to jack up the flavour and cut the sweetness) and it was definitely the right move.  I used semi-sweet chocolate, but in the future, will use a higher percent cocoa or even unsweetened chocolate for a really dark chocolatey flavour.

If you want to mix it up, go ahead and add a teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso powder, as it will enhance the chocolate flavour and add a lovely subtle hit of coffee.  Or you could go the opposite direction and add a tablespoon of bourbon, which is always a welcome addition to any pie.

How do you like your chocolate pies?

Crust Ingredients (Adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Note: to have enough crust for pretty braids and/or cutouts, multiply the quantities below by 1.5)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 oz chocolate, 65% cocoa or higher
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg plus 1 tsp water whisked together for egg wash

Steps

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand.  Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms.  If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along.  Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together. Flatten dough into a disk and wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (if you made 1.5x dough, split into two discs with one half the size of the other).

Once your dough has rested,  roll it out on a floured surface until it is just over a foot in diameter.  If it’s a bit of a wonky shape, cut a bit off one side to add to the side that needs it (use a fork to blend the sides together).

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Fold the circle in half and place in a buttered pie pan, ensuring there aren’t any spaces between the dough and the corner of the pan.  There should be about 1-2 inches of dough overhanging, roll/fold this dough UNDERNEATH itself, on top of the pan rim so there’s a little dough ledge.  To get a lovely crimped crust, pinch and push as shown below:image6

For a braided or dough cutout crust, trim any overhanging dough and lightly press the dough edge with the tines of a fork for texture (will help braids and cutouts stay secure).  Lightly brush the edge with egg wash and arrange your braids and cutouts on top of the edge, pressing down lightly.

Place the pie in the fridge for 30 minutes and then prick it all around with a fork (~20 times).  Place in the freezer until solid (10-15 minutes).

Wrap the pie in foil ensuring there are NO SPACES between foil and dough and weigh it down it with uncooked rice, beans or ceramic pie weights, mainly around the sides (this minimizes crust shrinking).  Bake at 425F for 20 minutes until the crust sets.  Remove pie weights and foil and brush the bottom and sides of the shell with egg wash.  Return shell to the oven (no foil) and bake for 3 minutes until the egg wash sets.  Cool completely.

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To make the filling, melt butter and chocolate together in a large heat proof bowl over a pot with an inch of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and add sugar, flour, cocoa, salt and vanilla and stir until smooth and creamy.  Scrape down the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Add eggs and yolk one at a time, stirring until incorporated and smooth.  Stir in heavy cream until all incorporated.  Rap the bowl against your surface a few times to pop any bubbles that formed beneath the surface.  Pour filling into cooled, pre-baked pie shell and brush the top of the crust with more egg wash.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake at 325F for 20 minutes.  Rotate pan and bake for another 25 minutes. The pie is done when the filling is puffed throughout and the centre is no longer liquid.  It may jiggle like gelatin when tapped, but not very much.  Allow to cool for 1 hour.

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