Chocolate Midnight Pie is dark, seductive, rich – an adult chocolate pie that we all need now. Just the other day my husband was enjoying a perfectly delicious dessert, but he said “This is great, but you know, it isn’t chocolate.” And sometimes nothing else quite will do. Chocolate Midnight Pie is for those times. It actually comes together quite easily. While it may not be the most visually stunning pie you will ever see, I have found that pies and cakes that have amazing decorations rarely taste as good as they look. Form over substance.
My father was in the candy business, so I grew up early on knowing good chocolate from bad. And I developed a taste for quality dark Dutch-process cocoa as well. Don’t cheap out on these ingredients. Make something else if you don’t want to pay for quality bittersweet chocolate or cocoa. My father also taught me (long before celebrity chefs were touting it on TV) that adding coffee to chocolate enhanced the dark, earthy, rich flavors. This Chocolate Midnight Pie hits all of the right notes.
Some have called it a chocolate chess pie and I think that may have been what initially caught my eye. I do love a great chess pie – chocolate or otherwise. This pie forms a crackly, crispy almost meringue-like chocolate crust. The filling is a deep chocolate truffle with coffee notes and the not too-sweet crust is a lovely counterpoint that melts as soon as it hits your tongue.
You can, of course, use any pie dough that you prefer, but I will say that the one in the recipe is very easy to handle. I made mine in a food processor and it probably took longer to clean the machine than it took to make the dough. It rolled out like a dream and I don’t often say that.
Orange and chocolate are a favorite combo of mine so I went with the Grand Marnier as the liqueur. When grinding chocolate, I always find that adding about a teaspoon of granulated sugar helps the process by adding just the right amount of friction, while preventing the blades from over-heating. Also be sure to pulse the blades rather than letting them run on. You don’t want to end up with chocolate paste although obviously the chocolate will melt in the end product.
If, however, for some reason you are not a chocolate lover (How is that possible? I can’t quite trust people who don’t like chocolate.) or you just want a non-chocolate dessert, try these wonderful chess pie recipes:
Now while it’s true that I do love a great chocolate dessert, we are now in apple season. And the smell of apples, sugar, cinnamon and other warm winter spices makes me happy that fall is here and winter is coming. The house always smells so inviting. So in the coming weeks, expect to see lots of apple breads and cakes coming your way.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1 1/4 cups (149g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (28g) confectioners’ or icing sugar
rounded 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pats
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
3 to 5 tablespoons (43g to 71g) milk or cream (half & half, light, heavy, or whipping)
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (298g) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup (21g) Dutch-process cocoa
2 tablespoons (28g) coffee liqueur* (e.g., Kahlua), or substitute strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon (14g) cold milk or cream (half-and-half, light, heavy, or whipping)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder,
2 tablespoons (18g) yellow or white cornmeal (Try to find one that is finely ground if you can.)
2/3 cup (113g) bittersweet chocolate chips
*Frangelico (hazelnut), Amaretto (almond), Grand Marnier (orange), Sabra or Framboise (raspberry) are all wonderful, in place of the coffee liqueur.
To make the crust
Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.
Work the butter into the dry ingredients (using your fingers, a pastry blender or fork, or a mixer) until the dough is unevenly crumbly.
Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of the milk/cream. Sprinkle up to 5 tablespoons (I only needed 4 Tablespoons) of the milk into the dry ingredients (beginning with the tablespoon of espresso milk), continuing to mix until the dough is cohesive. Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly, and doesn’t seem at all dry or crumbly, you’ve added enough liquid. (If you are using a food processor, stop the machine as soon as the dough starts to come together. Don’t allow it to form a ball.)
Shape the dough into a disk. Roll its edges along a floured work surface (as though the disk were a wheel), in order to smooth them out. Pat the disk until it’s about 1″ thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
To make the filling
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to warm a bit and become flexible, 15 to 30 minutes
Flour your work surface, and roll the dough into a 12″ circle. Transfer the dough to a regular (not deep-dish) 9″ pie pan that’s at least 1 1/4″ deep. Trim and crimp the edges. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill, while you’re preparing the filling.
Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly but thoroughly after each addition; you want to combine them with the butter and sugar, but not beat in a lot of air.
Stir in the cocoa, liqueur, milk, and vanilla.
Use a food processor (mini, if you have one) to grind together the espresso powder, cornmeal, and chocolate chips. Add to the batter. Pour the batter into the crust.
Bake the pie for 45 minutes, adding a crust shield after 20 minutes. The middle should just wobble as in a pumpkin or good custard. The pie does form a kind of crust on top. You want that.
If the temperature has reached 165°F right in the center, the pie is done. (I don’t use that method but feel free.) Note: If you’re baking in a stoneware or glass pan, the baking time will almost certainly be a bit longer. Go by how the pie looks, not by your timer, especially since all ovens are different. I like to allow the pie to sit in the oven with the temperature turned off and the door cracked open for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a cooling rack. It helps to cut down on cracks and will continue to solidify the center.
Remove the pie from the oven, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Serve each slice topped with a layer of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate curls, if desired. It’s nice, but you don’t have to get crazy to enjoy this pie.
Even if the pie is somewhat wobbly when you pull it out of the oven, don’t panic; an overnight rest in the refrigerator solidifies it and gives all the flavors a chance to mellow.