February 11, 2021. Dear Daughters- Since it’s just about Valentine’s Day, it’s probably a good idea to turn my attention from you to your Mom/My Wife. That means giving you this recipe for a dessert Mom will crave for Valentine’s Day, or any other day for that matter. Each slice of this fabulous pie offers up a blissful marriage that combines the taste and texture of a crispy and fudgy brownie corner piece and a slightly boozy and very gooey pecan pie.
There’s a bit of a back story as to how this pie came about since Mom hates the vast majority of desserts pies; which is quite unusual, considering her mother and your grandmother is one of the greatest pie lovers on this planet. As for Mom, she is repelled, not only by cooked fruit, but also by pastry crusts, so you can see the problem! This baffled me for years until Mom ordered a chocolate pecan tart (You know “tart” is just a fancy and expensive name for a type of pie- right?) at a favorite restaurant in Maine that she was crazy about. The key to this pie breakthrough was that the tart was made with a cookie crust and filled with chocolate and nuts- no pastry, no cooked fruit! After that, I was lucky enough to figure out a humble, at-home version Mom liked almost as much and the rest is history! Best of all, this is a very easy pie to make since a cookie crust is not as temperamental or time consuming as a pastry crust and dry nuts are much easier to cook in a pie than soggy fruit.
Perhaps you can make this pie for Mom one day to thank her for all the things she has done for us- including making it possible for me to be able to stay at home with you two when you were younger. Until then, I will make sure I offer this as a token of my appreciation to Mom for this Valentine’s Day because doing something nice like this is just one of the ways of how I kept your mother mostly happy for all these years!
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes crust/50 minutes pie/1+ hour to cool
Servings: 12 or more- it’s rich, so small slices are perfect unless you’re sharing
GET YOUR STUFF OUT
- 9 ounces, about 18, chocolate graham crackers
- 2 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or other salt
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped halves or large pieces
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup, about 2 ounces dark chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup or light corn syrup, if you can’t find dark
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or other dark spirit, optional and mostly for Dads
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or other salt
- 3 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk
- strawberries, hulled and sliced
- ice or whipped cream
- caramel sauce
- flaky sea salt
COOK AND PLAY
I’m not really sure Mom and I have a song, but I do clearly remember that our first dance at our wedding was to “In the Mood” by Glenn Miller. I even took dance lessons with Mom at the Y, with an old Latin guy who kept his shirt unbuttoned to his stomach, to get ready for the big dance. I also flipped Mom over my shoulder for a big finish- but that was near the end of the reception and after more than a few scotches! So why don’t you give that a listen while you make this pie! Click here for the Official Dad’s Dinner Diary Cook and Playlist!
- Anything But Crumby. Set up an upper and middle rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350. Break up graham crackers, place in a food processor and add brown sugar, salt and espresso powder. Blitz it all up into a mostly fine crumb, but don’t turn it to dust.
- The Upper Crust. Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add 7 tablespoons butter to melt. Once melted, stir in graham cracker crumb mixture until butter is completely incorporated into crumbs. Dump the buttery crumb mixture into a 9” pie plate, using your clean hands and perhaps the bottom of a measuring cup, to press evenly over the bottom and up the sides, . Set saucepan aside for filling, Depending on the depth of your pie plate, you may have extra crumbs that can be stored in the freezer for an ice cream topping. Bake pie crust on middle rack of oven until it crisps up and becomes aromatic- about 10-15 minutes.
- Perfect Pecans. Spread pecans out on baking sheet to toast while the crust is also cooking on the upper rack of the oven until aromatic- about 8 minutes, tossing after 4 minutes- keep an eye on the pecans since they quickly burn to bitter.
- Fantastic Filling. Put the sauce pan back over medium low heat and add 6 tablespoons butter and chocolate chips to melt. Once melted, whisk/mix in sugar, syrup, bourbon, vanilla, espresso powder and salt until all ingredients are well incorporated. Allow pan to cool enough so eggs don’t scramble (to cool pan quicker- place in a shallow bowl of ice water), whisk in eggs and egg yolk and then toasted pecans.
- Dad Bod Cooking. Pour filling into pie crust and place pie on baking sheet used to toast pecans on middle rack of the still 350 degree oven. Cook until mostly firm, but with a little jiggle in the middle- 40-50 minutes, rotating baking sheet after 25 minutes. Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool completely before slicing- at least an hour. It’s best to eat the pie within a day or two, but if you can’t get ‘er done, just cut into individual servings, wrap each slice in plastic wrap and store in freezer in a proper container for up to several months.
- Make It Look Even Better. Garnish each slice with strawberries, ice cream, caramel sauce and/or flaky sea salt.
PS- Did you notice how I’m saving you from doing extra dishes by using only one pan to melt the butter, mix the crust and mix the filling and the same pan to roast the nuts and place under the pie? Your welcome!
Free Dad Advice. A good peach is amazing on it’s own and doesn’t need a bowl of ice cream to be great- the ice cream just makes it a different kind of amazing. So what I really mean is that don’t ever let anyone or yourself give you a hard time for not being with someone on Valentine’s Day because you are amazing and loveable all on your own! I love you (and your Mother) too and, if you do happen to be with someone on Valentine’s Day, make sure that person treats you right.
Keywords: dessert, pie, pecans, chocolate
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