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Chocolate, Bourbon, and Pecan Pie

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While my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the stuffing, I’m always eager for the main meal portion to be over so that I can make a pig out of myself eating dessert. Ever since I can remember there have been copious amounts of pies, candies, chocolates, cake, cookies, and other dessert items to enjoy after the turkey.

In previous years we’ve had a large family meal, but this year since relatives are out of town there will only be four of us. While that won’t stop me from making an excessive amount of food, anything more than two or three desserts seems a bit ridiculous, which is why I wanted to really think hard about what desserts to choose as I can’t really justify making 8.

Something pumpkin was a given, but I was having a difficult time choosing between something chocolate (I come from a family of chocaholics) or another Thanksgiving classic, pecan pie. Thankfully, The New York Times published an excellent Thanksgiving Essential guide that included a chocolate bourbon pecan pie recipe (as well as a ton of excellent sounding recipes).

After doing a test run I have to say it’s one of the best pies I’ve ever had! I typically find pecan pies cloyingly sweet, but the addition of bittersweet chocolate and booze cut the sweetness but still left an incredibly decadent and rich pie. Make this and I promise it will be a hit!

Just a few notes:

  • I followed the original almost exactly, but I used light corn syrup instead of dark and dark brown sugar instead of light. My recommendation is to use whatever you have.
  • I’m on the quest to find the perfect pie crust. If you have one that never fails you, feel free to share! I’m currently using an all-butter recipe that turns out pretty well. I’ve tried tons of recipes and have yet to find one I truly love. For this recipe, use whatever works for you. Most recipes make a top and bottom crust so you’ll only need to use half, as this only calls for a bottom crust.
  • I didn’t technically use bourbon (which is made in the U.S., most commonly as Kentucky whiskey). I chose to use Pendleton, which is Canadian. I really enjoy the taste and I can almost always find it on sale somewhere. Use whatever whisk(e)y you enjoy.

Chocolate, Bourbon, and Pecan Pie

From The New York Times

  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Using a pie crust recipe of your choice, role out enough for a bottom crust (typically one half recipe) on a floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp edges. Prick crust all over with a fork. Chill crust for 30 minutes.

While the dough chills, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line chilled crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until very pale golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth; cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together cooled chocolate-butter mixture, corn syrup, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, bourbon and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Arrange pecans over filling. Bake until the filling is just set when the pan is jiggled, 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

I found this was delicious the second and third day, so it’s definitely something you can prepare well in advance for your Thanksgiving dinner, just cover and refrigerate. I also preferred it being served slightly chilled.

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Chocolate Meringue Pie

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I’m pretty much down with any recipe that has chocolate.

I think chocolate makes everything better. Seriously. If you have a mediocre lemon bar, drizzle some chocolate on it! If you have a plain pint of vanilla ice cream, sprinkle some chocolate chips over it. If you have some Brussels sprouts that your kids won’t eat…. well, I don’t know the eating habits of your kids, but chocolate and vegetables doesn’t sound that good, so maybe there is an exception.

Seeing as my grandmother raised four kids and spent 60+ years of her life in the kitchen, she’s been less eager to cook these days. I do what I can and once a month or so I cook up a storm to make sure she has a few meals worth of food. One day I was busy whipping up bread, jambalaya and roasted vegetable and barley salad when I realized I needed a dessert for her.

In an effort to find a simple pie to make, I thought a chocolatey custard based pie might be nice. While I can make pie dough, I tend to prefer graham cracker based pies (you can’t mess up ground up graham crackers). I found The Homesick Texan’s (grandma’s) pie and thought it would be a perfect candidate for an easy pie to make with a graham cracker crust. I might even call it a s’more pie (despite a lack of marshmallow). After making it on a Thursday, I made it again on a Friday with a few alterations, and then again on a Saturday.

The original recipe was perfection and it didn’t need changing, but I think everything is better with more chocolate (and maybe other things) so I altered just a few things.

My only regret: I wish I had taken at least one picture of the pie… besides this sad one where the pie is in the corner and barely visible. But, despite a lack of photographs, I wanted to share this recipe because it’s so good… and I wanted you to know what a considerate, outstanding grandson I am.

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Adapted from Homesick Texan

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter) melted

Filling:

  • 5 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Topping:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar

For the crust:

In a bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into a standard pie pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven until lightly brown. Set aside.

For the filling:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, mix the sugar, flour, salt, cocoa, coffee powder, eggs and milk (all except vanilla and butter) with a whisk.
Cook while constantly stirring on medium until it bubbles and thickens, about 10-15 minutes. It may be a bit lumpy, but keep whisking, it will smooth out. After 10-15 minutes, it should thicken and resemble a pudding. Keep in mind it won’t thicken any more in the oven, so if it’s a thin consistency, continue whisking until it’s thickened.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Pour into prepared crust.

For the topping:

Beat the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar and when they start to get fluffy add the sugar. Beat until mildly stiff peaks form (you don’t want dry egg whites, but you want stiff ones).

With an offset spatula or flatware knife, spread topping over prepared crust and custard. Bake at 375 for approximately 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and cook a few more minutes until topping is lightly browned.