Nov. 11th, 2009

A Dark Alchemy.

That's what I'm calling the pie recipe I made this weekend. It started off its life as the "Midnight Mocha Pie with Cafe Au Lait Crust" in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book, but that is just too boring a name for the pie that resulted from their recipe + my slight alterations.

(For those of you reading this via a direct link on LJ Idol, if you want you can skip the recipe and go down to the "~*~*~" part. On my friend's list the recipe is under a cut-tag)

A recipe for turning a few simple household ingredients into dessert gold. )

~*~*~*~

Prior to making this pie, the only chocolate pie I'd ever eaten (other than Boston Creme, but that's not really a pie...) was the one some of you may have been unfortunate enough to experience at a family gathering at some point in your holiday past. That "pie" is basically just chocolate pudding inside of a tasteless white flour crust. In fact, if the crust were to have any flavor notes at all, I would call them bitter/acrid/a little like feet.

This is not that pie. For one thing, this crust has flavor. Allowing the dough to rest in your refrigerator for a few days makes the tiny hint of espresso powder you add to the crust just SING. The texture of the crust is dense and chewy, like an apple or pumpkin pie crust, not phyllo-y like the evil chocolate pie of my childhood.

But the crust is just the beginning (that is, if you eat your pie like I do. I always eat the crust end first). The filling is where the truly dark alchemy happens.

I do not know how or why, but the "setting up" the King Arthur Flour book claims will occur with refrigeration never quite happened with my pie. And let me tell you that was a very, very good thing. The top of the pie formed a crust, as advertised in the book, a little like the thin crispy layer on the top of fudge brownies. As a matter of fact much of the pie was a similar consistency to a very dense, wet, and intense chocolate brownie. But the true joy of this pie revealed itself within the first slice.

As I cut into the pie for the first time, I had no idea what lay within its dark depths. But when I pulled the slice away from the pie, out spilled a rich black syrup. It was a surprise, like cutting into one of those chocolate lava cakes thinking you've just got a regular old mini-bundt cake. Placing my slice on the waiting plate, I could not resist swiping up some of the syrup with my finger. And ah, my taste buds! I've never tasted anything quite like it. Far more than the sum of its parts, it still resonated with hints of kahlua and espresso, bittersweet Green & Blacks, and Hershey's Dutch process cocoa. I have no idea how the syrup formed in the center of the pie- above and below the syrup layer the filling formed denser brownie-like layers. Most pies are wet by nature (think of the rich fruity syrup formed in blueberry pie, for example), so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised, but whatever strange alchemy occurred truly did produce dessert gold.

This syrup would make an excellent topping for vanilla ice cream, and I would have jumped at a chance to pair the two had I any in the house at the time. If you make this recipe for a gathering, be sure to buy a half gallon of vanilla bean Breyers to serve with it. And although you need to keep the pie refrigerated, I'd recommend heating the slices for just a few seconds in the microwave, then adding a scoop of ice cream on top before serving.

I dare you to make this pie. Take a bite. Your tastebuds will sing out with pleasure at the devastatingly dark beauty in the marriage of chocolate and espresso. Go ahead. Try it.

(EDIT- I had one slice left, so I took some pictures. What good is a food blog without photographic proof?)
A Dark Alchemy
A slice of dark beauty.

Dripping with Syrup
See how the chocolate flows...

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