I don't know what pecans did to become the official nut of Autumn, but they should keep it up.
I found this recipe for Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie in the new Poole's cookbook, which made a big promise to me from the shelf; to re-imagine Southern classics. Sounded right up my alley, so naturally I started from the best section, all the way in the back.
Dessert time, y'all.
The recipe starts out with a hefty pie crust recipe, yielding four crusts. This was quite the forearm workout, and I put my new pastry blender and rolling pin to work. I was left with four endearingly lumpy disks of dough, with large sections of still-visible butter -- promising a flaky, complex crust. I may have over-worked the dough a bit -- rookie mistake.
In the end, I am proud to say that this was my first successful batch of from-scratch pie crusts, an area of particular difficulty and slight bitterness, on my end. Being defeated once by a pie crust can really put someone into a fruit crumble-making, pie-avoiding mode for quite some time. But now I'm never looking back.
Then came the mixture, a corn-syrupy, melted-chocolate mess that blended easily and beautifully into a deep, rich brown, falling in ribbons off the spatula. I blind-baked the pie shell, filled with dried pinto beans playing the role of pie weights, and then loaded in the filling, now mixed with a healthy 1 1/2 cups of pecan halves. Next time, toasted pecans.
This recipe bakes for a while, but the caramelization on the top makes it all worthwhile. A bubbled, crisped-up sugar crust forms over the top, puffed up in the oven and slowly sinking down into a dense, crackled and autumnally sweet center as it cools.
So, I have something to admit. I'm not responsible when it comes to having four pie crusts laying around. I made this pie twice in a week, and I'm not one bit ashamed.
I think Take 1 was pretty good, but I think Take 2 was marginally better, because I outsourced the pie crust-rolling that time, to someone less prone to crust frustration. Crustration. Ok, I'll stop.
That way, the dough remained a bit more tender, without any fear of being over-worked under the rolling pin.
So, I'm fairly certain that the next logical step is to go visit the namesake and origin of the cookbook, Poole's Diner in Raleigh, NC. I'd love to go and see their new takes on the classics, some near and dear to my Halfway Southern heart.
Currently looking at flights, for research purposes, of course. And perhaps with the intention to show up, eat their famous Mac and Cheese, and ask about further insider secrets on pie crusts.