Here we've taken pecan pie above and beyond its usual corn-syrupy incarnation. A layer of bittersweet chocolate adds richness to the dessert while simultaneously balancing its sweetness. And an abundance of pecans makes for a supremely satisfying filling. This decadent spin on a classic recipe will delight your family and friends time and time again.
Active time: 40 min
Start to finish: 3 hr (includes making pastry)
Servings: Makes 8 servings
1 (3 1/2- to 4-ounces) fine-quality 60%- to 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
Pastry dough (see recipe below)
2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces), toasted* and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.
Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring. Remove from heat.
Roll out dough into a 13-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold overhang under and press against rim of pie plate, then crimp decoratively.
Spread chocolate in bottom of pie shell with back of spoon and let it set, then cover with pecans.
Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl, then whisk in corn syrup and pour over pecans.
Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden, 50 to 60 minutes. (If pie is browning too fast after 30 minutes, loosely cover with foil.) Cool pie on a rack to warm or room temperature. Serve with whipped cream.
Cooks' note: Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled, uncovered, until cool, then covered. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 10 minutes. *Toast the pecans in a shallow baking pan in a 350° F oven until golden, 5 to 15 min
How to make the perfect pastry dough
Basic is best when it comes to piecrust. There's no need to fiddle with this multipurpose flaky pastry.
Active time: 10 min
Start to finish: 1 1/4 hr
Servings: Makes enough for 1 (9-inch) single-crust pie or 1 (9- to 11-inch) tart shell
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Equipment: a pastry or bench scraper
Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated.
Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until incorporated. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
Turn out dough onto a work surface. Divide dough into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper. Press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
• If you're making two desserts that call for this pastry dough, you can make a double batch.
• Pastry dough can be chilled up to 2 days or frozen, wrapped well, up to 3 months.