Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frontera Grill's Chocolate Pecan Pie

Even though we didn't end up making this pie for this particular meal, it is on my list. I will make this pie. Someday. Until then, if you make this pie first, please let me know how it goes and what you think of it. I think it sounds fantastic.

Once again, this is from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. If you only buy one Mexican cookbook in your lifetime, let it be this one.


Frontera Grill's Chocolate Pecan Pie
Pay de Nuez y Chocolate, estilo Frontera Grill

Makes one 10-inch pie, serving 12

For the crust:
1 1/2 (6 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour (measured by scooping and leveling)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch bits
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening or rich-tasting lard, chilled, and cut into 1/2-inch bits
3/4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk, beaten slightly

For the filling:
2 cups (about 6 ounces) pecan halves (make sure they're fresh and richly flavorful)
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (6 ounces) room-temperature unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua or brandy
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sweetened whipped cream, flavored with Kahlua for serving

1. The dough. Measure the flour, butter and shortening (or lard) into a bowl or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Quickly work the fats into the flour with a pastry blender or pulse the food processor until the flour looks a little damp (not powdery) but tiny bits of fat are still visible. If using the food processor transfer the mixture to a bowl.

Mix together the sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons of ice water. Using a fork, little by little work the ice-water mixture into the flour mixture. The dough will be in rough, rather stiff clumps; if there is any unincorporated flour in the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle in a little more ice water and use the fork to work it together. Press the dough together into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a deep 10-inch glass pie pan (I find it easiest to roll the dough onto the rolling pin, then unroll it onto the pie pan). Decoratively crimp the edge and trim excess dough. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Prebaking the crust. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 15-inch piece of foil and lay it, oiled-side down, into the crust (heavy duty foil is too stiff to work here); press down to line the crust snugly. Fill with beans or pie weights and bake about 15 minutes, until beginning to brown around the edges. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Carefully remove the beans (or weights) and foil, return the crust to the oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes, until it no longer looks moist. (If it bubbles at this point, gently press it down with the back of a spoon). Brush the beaten egg yolk over the crust, then let cool completely.
Italic
3. The nuts and chocolate. While the crust is cooling, spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the 350-degree oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Cool, then break into small pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Chop the chocolate into rough, 1/2-inch pieces and add to the bowl, along with the flour. Stir until everything is well coated.

4. The filling. In a food processor (or in the large bowl of an electric mixer), cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes in the food processor, 5 minutes in the mixer. With the machine still running, add the eggs one at a time, letting each be completely incorporated before adding the next. Beat in the corn syrup, molasses, Kahlua or brandy, vanilla and salt.

5. Baking. Pour the filling over the chocolate and pecans and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into the prebaked pie shell, set onto the lower shelf of the oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center is withdrawn clean, about 1 hour.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve slices of the pie at room temperature or slightly warm, topped with a dollop of Kahlua-spiked, sweetened whipped cream.

ADVANCE PREPARATION: The pie can be made several days ahead, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. It freezes well. Because the pie is easiest to cut when cold, I suggest making it ahead, refrigerating it, cutting it, then warming just before serving.

VARIATIONS AND IMPROVISATIONS: Other nuts can be substituted for the pecans. Honey can replace the molasses for a lighter flavor. If you like the crystalline crunch of Mexican chocolate, reduce the semisweet chocolate to 5 ounces and sprinkle the pie with 1/3 cup rather finely chopped Mexican chocolate before baking.

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