Believing as I do that an infusion of chocolate improves the flavor of almost every food -- with the possible exception of breakfast cereals -- I was anxious to try dumping 14 ounces of chocolate into a pecan pie.
In addition to being rabidly pro-chocolate, I am positively tepid about pecan pie. I like pie. And I like pecans. But somehow when the two come together the result is either too gooey or too fluffy to send me into ecstasy.
I am also pro-ecstasy, especially in matters of dessert.
So when my wife, who is pro-pecan pie, came across the recipe for chocolate pecan chocolate chunk pie in Marcel Desaulniers new cookbook "Death by Chocolate" (Rizzoli, $25), I began lobbying her to make it.
I assured her that since Desaulniers lives in Williamsburg, Va., where he runs the Trellis Restaurant, he understands pecans, the favorite nut of the South.
And I told her that having once been in an oyster-eating marathon with Desaulniers, I knew he had a strong appetite. No tiny bites for this guy.
I talked my wife into making the pie. It turned out to be a lot of work. The pie crust was supposed to be refrigerated overnight. The filling had to be cooked at two temperatures. Along the way, the temperamental pie had to rest several times before it moved on to the next stage of pieness. But it came out looking absolutely perfect, like the lustful dream of some water-sipping dieter. A dark chocolate body laced with golden brown pecans.
The first night we had it, the pie tasted good. The next night, after the pie had rested even more, it tasted even better. The kids didn't like it. One picked the pecans out of his piece. That was OK because it left more pie for me. And by the time this pie had rested two days, its flavor bordered on the big "E" -- ecstasy.
Moreover, the recipe is so big, and Desaulniers' portions are so huge, that one batch of the chocolate chunk pie filling turned out to be enough to make two pies -- or two shots at ectasty.
Chocolate pecan chocolate chunk pie
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut in six pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4 -inch pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/4 -inch pieces
1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups pecan halves
To prepare the shell, mix 1 1/4 cups flour, butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low for 5 minutes, until the butter is "cut into" the flour and the mixture develops a mealy texture. Add ice water and continue to mix on low for 10 to 15 seconds, until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the mixer and form it into a smooth, round ball. Wrap in film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
After 4 hours transfer it to a clean, dry, lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough (using the extra 1/2 cup of flour to prevent dough form sticking) into a circle about 15 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Line a 9-by-1 1/2 -inch false bottom pan with dough, leaving a 3/4 inch border, crimped around the top edge of the pan. Refrigerate the pastry crust for 30 minutes.
To prepare the filling, heat the butter and sugar in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly while bringing mixture to a boil. Allow mixture to boil for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to electric mixer bowl. Using rubber spatula, stir in 6 ounces of the semisweet and all of the unsweetened chocolate. Stir until chocolate has melted. Add corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Add eggs, and place bowl onto mixer fitted with paddle. Combine on medium until eggs are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Use spatula to finish combining mixture.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove pie shell from refrigerator, placing it on baking sheet. Scatter 3 cups of pecan halves over bottom of the shell. Spread remaining chunks of semisweet chocolate over pecan halves. Slowly pour chocolate batter over chopped chocolate and nuts.
Bake the pie, (leaving it on baking sheet) on middle shelf of oven for 1 hour. Reduce temperature to 300 and bake for another 45-55 minutes, until internal temperature of filling reaches 170. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (do not remove pie from pan.)