For Chocolate Lovers only
 
 

Decadence Pie

Tips: Rich, richer, richest! A pie crust is filled with a dense, smooth, excessively cholesterol-laden mixture that, when baked, has the taste and texture of a soft fudge. “Small slices” needs to be your motto here! If you’re feeling truly wicked, serve this with a scoop of good coffee or vanilla ice cream. Make sure the brown sugar you use in the filling is soft and fresh; if it isn’t, the pie will contain small undissolved lumps of brown sugar. This will keep for 3 days in the fridge (tightly covered, please), though it’s never as good as it is on the first day. Somewhat to my surprise, this also freezes (defrost, still in wrappings, in the refrigerator).

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients:

    Crust
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, fluffed with a fork before measuring
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into thin pats
  • 3 Tbsp. solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. ice water

    For baking
  • 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds dried beans


  • Filling
  • 3 eggs, graded “large”, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1-1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar (see Note)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Method:

Make the crust: Have ready a 9 inch diameter heatproof glass pie plate; set aside. In workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Process at high speed until well-blended. Add butter pats and vegetable shortening; process at high speed just until fats are in very fine particles (you can also blend the flour, sugar, and salt thoroughly with a spoon or fork in a medium bowl , and “cut in” the fats with a pastry blender or two knives). If the flour-fat mixture was in the food processor, dump into a medium bowl now. Add 1 Tbsp. ice water, drizzling it around the mixture, and start blending with a fork. Continue adding ice water very gradually, drizzling in a small amount at a time, just until dough begins to clump together. Do not overwork. Gather dough into a ball and press into a flattish round on a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 90 minutes (or overnight).

You can roll out the dough on a lightly floured pastry board or between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper. Unwrap cold dough; if necessary, let stand at room temperature for a short while until it can be rolled out without cracking. If you use a pastry board, keep rolling pin and board lightly floured, and turn dough over now and again to prevent sticking. If using wax paper, periodically peel off and replace top sheet of paper, then flip dough over (still between wax paper sheets), peel off new top sheet of wax paper, and replace. Lightly re-flour wax paper sheets as necessary. Roll from center of dough outwards in all directions to form a circle about 13 inches in diameter. If at any point dough becomes too warm and begins to soften too much, replace in refrigerator for a while until it firms up again.

Carefully and gently roll dough very loosely around rolling pin; transfer dough to pie plate. Fit dough carefully into pie plate, avoiding stretching it. Form a standing rim slightly about the edge of the plate, cutting away any excess dough with a sharp knife; notch rim decoratively as desired. Using a fork, prick inside of crust all over, including sides and edges where sides and bottom join.

Tear off a piece of regular weight aluminum foil about 12 inches long. Fit this as closely as possible into the crust, leaving any overhang standing up. Pour the dried beans into the foil lining and spread evenly (they won’t come to the top of the pie plate, but that’s OK). Chill crust at least 15 to 20 minutes. Fifteen minutes before you want to bake the crust, adjust rack to center of oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake crust in center of preheated oven for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Carefully, using edges of foil as handles, remove foil lining filled with beans from pie crust. Return crust to oven; bake 6 to 7 minutes longer. Edges of crust should just be taking on a bit of color. Remove crust to cooling rack; cool completely before filling.

For filling: While crust cools, combine eggs, yolk, brown sugar, and salt in large bowl. With a large spoon, stir well to combine and moisten brown sugar. Cover with plastic wrap; allow to stand at room temperature while preparing remainder of filling.

Place chopped chocolate in small microwaveable bowl. In microwave at high power, heat cream until very hot. Pour about half of hot cream over chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. In three additions, add remaining cream to chocolate, stirring or whisking gently after each addition until smooth. Set aside to cool somewhat (chocolate mixture may still be slightly warm when added to egg mixture), stirring ocasionally.

Before finishing filling, check to make sure crust is completely cooled. Chocolate mixture and melted butter may be warm but not hot. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With large spoon, briefly beat egg mixture to make sure it’s thoroughly blended; there should be no lumps of brown sugar in it (if you see any, press them out with the back of the spoon). Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add melted chocolate mixture, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir (do not beat; you don’t want a lot of air in this filling, although some is OK) until well-mixed.

Carefully pour filling into cooled crust (filling will be about level with edge of pie plate). Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. REDUCE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 325 DEGREES F. Continue baking pie 25 to 30 minutes longer (total baking time is 40 to 45 minutes). When done, crust will be medium golden brown. Outer edges of filling will have risen, look set, and have cracks; there will be a large center area that still looks uncooked, but this will firm up as the pie cools. Do not overbake! Remove to cooling rack; cool completely before serving.

My favorite way to serve this is when it has cooled to room temperature but hasn’t yet been chilled. If you do refrigerate the pie, cut small slices with a sharp knife, then allow them to stand at room temperature, lightly covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish with unsweetened or lightly sweetened whipped cream. Store pie tightly covered in refrigerator for up to three days; freeze for longer storage.

Note: Within reason, you can play with the quantity of sugar in this filling. 1-1/3 cups makes a filling that isn’t too sweet, but you can reduce or increase the amount slightly if you wish. In an early trial, I used 1-2/3 cups light brown sugar, but that made the pie substantially too sweet for me.

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