by Stephanie Zonis
I know a number of people who are pecan pie freaks. There must be more ways to make this than you can shake a stick at, but most recipes (like this one) hinge on pecans and a "custard" made of eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, and not too much else. This pie has more pecans than most, and it has cocoa and instant espresso powder in it, both of which cut the sweetness of the "custard" a bit. During baking, this pie forms two not-very-distinct layers (they are there; you just have to look closely). There's a cocoa-pecan layer on top, and a smooth espresso layer on the bottom. Delicious! Please use Dutch process cocoa powder for this, as it will give you the dark, rich look that the top layer of this pie should have. Serve this warm, at room temperature, or chilled, but make sure you serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream or a first-class vanilla ice cream, either of which is a perfect accompaniment. As this pie is quite rich, you'll probably want to serve small slices of it.
1-1/4 cups flour
6 Tbsp. unsalted, cold butter, cut into slim pats
About 3 to 5 Tbsp. ice water
1-1/3 cups pecan halves or large pieces
4 eggs, graded "large"
1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sifted or strained unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup light corn syrup
In medium bowl, combine flour and salt; stir to mix well. with two knives or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is in fine crumbs. (This step can also be done in a food processor fitted with a steel blade; pulse on-and-off until butter-flour mixture is in fine crumbs, then turn into medium bowl.) Gradually add just enough ice water so that pastry holds together. Form into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Handle as little as possible. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; chill at least 1-2 hours.
Roll out crust on lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin. Turn crust over frequently, and lightly re-flour work surface and rolling pin as necessary. Crust should be rolled into a circle about 13" in diameter. Fit crust into ungreased, 9" pie plate of heatproof glass; form a high-standing rim, trimming excess from edges and pinching or fluting rim decoratively as desired. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Thoroughly prick crust all over with fork. Chill at least 10 minutes while oven heats. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes (crust will not brown). Remove to rack and cool completely before filling.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If your pecan halves are very large, break them up a bit with your fingers; otherwise, use them as they are. Scatter them evenly on the bottom of the cooled pie shell. In small bowl, with fork, beat eggs to combine. Add espresso powder and beat to mix. Let stand at least 10 minutes, beating occasionally to dissolve espresso.
By hand, in medium bowl, cream softened butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa and salt. Add egg-espresso mixture one-third at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in corn syrup. This "custard" will be thick--that's OK.
Pour mixture slowly over pecans in pie shell. If any pecans do not get completely covered by "custard", submerge them until they do. Let stand 2-3 minutes; with toothpick or tip of sharp knife, pierce any remaining air bubbles (during this standing period, pecans may rise to top of pie--OK).
Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F; bake 33-37 minutes longer (total baking time is 43-47 minutes), or until edges are cracked and risen but pie center still quivers slightly when pie is shaken gently. Do not overbake. If pie begins to brown excessively, cover top lightly with foil. Remove from oven; cool on rack before serving.
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This page created November 1998
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