[personal profile] ofstarsandstone
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 Dark Alchemy

Ingredients

Crust:
1/2 C old fashioned rolled oats (not oatmeal, not quick oats)
1/2 C whole barley flour (can substitute whole wheat)
1/3 C whole wheat pastry flour (can substitute unbleached all purpose)
1/4 C confectioner's sugar
heaping 1/4 t salt
6 T (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/4 t espresso powder (you can use any instant espresso mix, though I used this brand)
2 1/2 - 3 T milk or cream, divided (I used heavy whipping cream)

Filling:
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C dark brown sugar
1/4 t salt
4 large eggs (I used cage-free vegetarian-fed brown eggs)
1/3 C Dutch process cocoa (I used Hershey's because it's what I had here at the house, but I'd love to try the recipe again with this. Have I mentioned I ADORE King Arthur Flour??)
2 1/2 T coffee liqueur (or equal amt strong brewed coffee- I used Kahlua)
1 T cold milk or cream (once again, I used heavy whipping cream)
2 1/2 t espresso powder (same as above)
1 t vanilla extract
2 T cornmeal
2/3 C chocolate chips or chipped chocolate. I STRONGLY recommend chipping your own chocolate from a bittersweet bar. I used Green & Blacks Dark 85% cacao. AMAZING

Directions

To prepare the crust:

Grind oats in a food processor for 30 seconds. Transfer ground oats to a medium bowl and stir in flours, sugar, and salt. Work butter into dry ingredients using fingers, pastry blender, or a fork until evenly crumbly. Dissolve espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of cream and sprinkle liquid into dry ingredients. Add remaining cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is cohesive (when you pick it up, it tends to retain its shape). Shape dough into a disk and roll on its edge on a floured work surface to smooth the edges. Pat until 1 inch thick, then wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour, but preferably 1 to 3 days. You heard me right. 3 DAYS. True alchemy takes time.

30 minutes prior to preparing the pie, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow the dough to warm for 15-30 minutes so it will become flexible. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour a work surface and roll dough into a 12 inch circle. (If you plan to make pie dough often, I cannot recommend highly enough purchasing a pie mat. They show you exactly how big to roll out your dough for whatever size pie you are making. Some of the all-purpose mats give you a grid for rolling out just about anything you want). Transfer dough to a regular (not deep dish, but at least 1 1/4 inches deep) 9 inch pie pan. (Another neat tool to have for this is a large kitchen scraper). Trim dough and crimp edges. Put prepared pan back in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling:

Beat butter, sugars, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating slowly but thoroughly. You want to combine the ingredients without adding too much air. Stir in cocoa, liqueur, cream, espresso powder, and vanilla. In a food processor, grind cornmeal and chipped chocolate. Stir chocolate mixture into batter. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, shielding the crust after 20 minutes. (For the love of all the gods, if you are a pie baker, get a pie shield. I haven't got one, and taking the pie out of the oven to carefully place foil around the edges is a pain in my patootie. Just sayin). Remove from oven and cool to room temperature before refrigerating overnight. The pie will look liquidy when removed from the oven, but will set up after being refrigerated.

~*~*~*~

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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