Monday, March 22, 2010

Rustic Chocolate Pie

When I say the name Alice Medrich, what do you think of? Most people would say "chocolate." I wish my name were synonymous with something so highly regarded and beloved, but that's another blog. This one is to celebrate Alice and her magic with that ingredient so close to many people's hearts. I have nearly all of her cookbooks, but I was intrigued when I was thumbing through February's issue of Better Homes & Gardens and saw that she had featured some chocolate and vanilla recipes. Initially my interest was in her vanilla recipes, since she's so well known for her chocolate ones. However, of course what ended up capturing my attention and holding on to it was her recipe for rustic chocolate pie.

Rustic Chocolate Pie

See, the other thing about Alice Medrich is that her desserts are typically elegant, beautiful, and (somewhat) time consuming. This was the first recipe I'd seen of hers that was "quick and dirty" (but sounded delicious all the same). That's not to say that there aren't others; I've just never seen them. So, of course, I had to make it.

I'm not going to lie... the crust was not fun. I haven't perfected my crust-making yet, and I found this one to be rather trying. I know enough about making crust to know that the trick to flaky crust is to use very cold ingredients, and to handle the final dough as little as possible. Also, you should use as little moisture as you can -- just enough to make the dough come together. Well, I used the maximum allowed in the recipe and the dough was still flaking all over the place, even after chilling overnight. So that wasn't fun. I've had more success with other crusts, and may use those in the future when making this pie.

The pie overall, however, was great. I ate a piece of it warm, right out of the oven, and it was gooey and rich. I also ate it cold, after it was in the refrigerator, and it was like eating a chilled, fudgy brownie on top of a very light, almost-not-there pie crust. I actually preferred the latter, but your mileage may vary.

Note: The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar, but I cut that in half to 1/8 cup. I'm not big on overly sweet desserts, and the more I cut down the sugar in my desserts, the better they seem to taste. Again, your own experience may differ from mine. I didn't bother with the optional serving suggestion. The chocolate I used was Trader Joe's dark chocolate, which as a minimum of 54% cacao.

Rustic Chocolate Pie (recipe by Alice Medrich, from February 2010 issue of Better Homes & Gardens)

  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp cold water
  • 6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (not to exceed 62% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • chocolate shavings (optional)


  1. To make crust, in bowl thoroughly mix flour and 1/4 tsp salt. Cut butter in chunks and add to bowl. With two knives or pastry blender, cut butter into flour, tossing to coat with flour until largest pieces are size of pine nuts and remaining resemble coarse bread crumbs. As you work, scrape flour up from bottom of bowl, and scrape butter from knives or pastry blender. Do not let butter melt or blend completely into flour. Drizzle 1 1/2 tbsp cold water over flour mixture while tossing and mixing, until just moist enough to hold together when pressed. Add remaining water if needed. Turn out on plastic wrap. Gather into flat disk, pressing in any loose pieces. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
  2. Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature, or until pliable enough to roll without cracking. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 14x9-inch oval, about 1/8 inch thick, rotating and dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Brush excess flour from dough; fold in half to transfer to a piece of parchment slightly larger than dough. Unfold dough. Loosely fold and roll edge, without pressing, to form rimmed crust. Place parchment with pastry on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden brown (crust edge will be a little raw inside).
  3. Meanwhile, for filling, melt chocolate in microwave on 50% power (medium) about 2 minutes. Stir frequently until chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from microwave. Stir until melted; set aside.
  4. In bowl beat egg whites with cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. Beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Pour pecans and melted chocolate over whites; fold with spatula until batter is uniform color.
  5. Remove crust from oven. Reduce oven to 350°F. Dollop filling on crust. Spread to 1/2 inch thick. Bake 10 minutes, or until surface looks dry and slightly cracked (fudgy inside). Cool on baking sheet on rack. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate after 2 hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, sprinkle pine nuts and chocolate shavings.