Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Sounds like sex in a pastry shell, doesn't it? That assumption isn't too far off. If you're looking for a rich, sweet pie with a kick, look no further. Pecans add that perfect, buttery texture while chocolate adds that extra almost much-too-muchery of sweetness that makes your teeth cringe a little bit as you fork into the pie. And while the alcohol is for the majority "cooked out" through the heat in the oven, tasters unanimously report, "Ooh! I can definitely taste the bourbon!"

My recipe comes from The Southern Heritage Pie and Pastry cookbook, which is part of a culinary compendium of all things Southern. While it is out of print, copies can be found on's Marketplace for a few dollars. The history bits betwixt the rich, sweet recipes makes for a slobbery, informative read.

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Before I proceed with the recipe, I'd like to talk a little bit about pie crusts. I admit that these things are some of the most frustrating pastry doughs to work with. I still don't think I can do pie crusts the justice they deserve. However, after some research I stumbled upon a recipe that works far better than any other I've encountered in any cookbook. It comes from America's Test Kitchen, published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine. The following clip lays the foundation for what these chefs were trying to accomplish in their reconstruction of the common recipes for pie dough:

Watch America's Test Kitchen - Pie Crust in Educational & How-To | View More Free Videos Online at

So we see that the secret here is good ole fashioned Polish water, or vodka as it's called. Call on this recipe when you need a single crust pie, or simply double it when you need a two cruster.

1 1/4 c unbleached, all-purpose flour plus extra for work surface
1/2 t table salt
1 T sugar
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" slices
1/4 c chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into two pieces (I always use my home-rendered lard here--you can't beat the flavor!)
2 T cold vodka
2 T cold water

Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured work surface to 12" circle about 1/8" thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least a 1" overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, ease dough onto plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Trim overhang to 1/2" beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

From this point, you can either "blind bake" the crust if required. Alternatively, you can proceed with finishing the pie with a filling and rolling out a top crust, if desired or called for.

But back to the chocolate bourbon pecan filling for a second, lest we become too abstracted by the rudimentary aspects of pie crusting.

For the filling:
3 eggs
1/4 c plus two tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 c light corn syrup (I typically avoid corn syrups in favor of cane syrups, sorghum molasses, or agave nectar)
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar (I have unwavering affections for the dark variety)
2 T bourbon
1 T all-purpose flour
1 t vanilla extract
1 c chopped pecans (I also use about 3/4 c worth of pecan halves to reserve for garniture, as you can see in the photograph)
1 c semisweet chocolate morsels
1 unbaked 9" pastry shell (recipe above)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until frothy. Add butter, beating well. Add syrup, sugar, bourbon, flour, and vanilla; beat well. Stir in chopped pecans.

Sprinkle chocolate morsels in pastry shell. Pour pecan mixture over chocolate morsels. If you have reserved pecan halves, arrange them in a circular formation floating on top of the filling. Bake for one hour and cool thoroughly before slicing.

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There you have it. A buttery, bourbony, chocolaty, nutty, gastronomical orgasm. For extra decadence, serve with some full-fat vanilla ice cream.

Keep it classy y'all!

<3 David

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