Award-winning chef Rick Bayless' Pecan Pie recipe
Rick Bayless sweetends up the ABC7 kitchen with the Chocolate Pecan pie he has been serving for 20 years at Frontera Grill.
Frontera Grill's Chocolate Pecan Pie
Over the years, we've made more than 8,000 of these pies for Frontera, each crust rolled out by hand, the filling mixed in batches of three or four. I say "we," but the truth is almost all of them have been made by Gonzalo de Santiago, our pastry chef of nine years, and his crew. The recipe is one I put together almost a dozen years ago now, not out of the clear blue or because I wanted to jump on the chocolate-pecan bandwagon, but simply because I love pecan pie (I grew up in Oklahoma, in pecan country) and thought stirring in chunks of chocolate might make this old standby (both here and in coffeeshops across Mexico) seem less cloying.
It does, though the end result is still very rich--almost like a not-too-sweet candy bar packed into a flaky crust. Barely sweetened whipped cream (laced with a little Kahlúa) plays the welcome role of counterbalance here, and, at the restaurant, we sprinkle everything with a little pulverized Mexican chocolate.
I included a special pecan pie recipe in Authentic Mexican, which explains the popularity of pies in Mexico and the role of the native pecan in them. I think we're all pretty aware these days that chocolate's birthplace is Mexico. Which leads me to say that this pie relates to pies you'd find in Mexico, and it's made from traditional Mexican ingredients. This pie itself, however, is not a traditional preparation.
Little did I know when we chose it as Frontera's house dessert that it is a joy to work with: it keeps well in the refrigerator, you can freeze it with no noticeable change and you can even wrap it well, pack it in securely and ship it as overnight mail.
Makes one 10-inch pie, serving 12
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups (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 teaspoon 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 semi-sweet 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 Kahlúa or brandy
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 2 cups Sweetened Whipped Cream flavored with Kahluá, 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 by pulsing the food processor until the flour looks a little damp (rather than 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 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 off the excess dough. Refrigerate for 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.
3. The nuts and chocolate. While the crust is cooling, spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the 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, Kahlúa 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 Kahlúa-spiked, sweetened whipped cream.
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