This Thanksgiving I was really missing my mom’s pecan pie. She usually makes it the night before, and sometimes we sneak a sliver before bed. If not, we definitely break into it in the morning. I love having pie for breakfast.
My first winter out here I had to bake mini pecan tartlets for a banquet event. I even used a ‘high altitude recipe’ from a very popular high altitude cookbook. They bubbled out over their crusts and tasted nothing like pecan pie should- hard and chewy- rather than soft and gooey.
After that I kind of dismissed pecan pie baking at altitude. I was under the impression that it was impossible from my first-hand attempts, as well as what I had read on the Internet.
A week or two ago, I saw a recipe for chocolate pecan pie on Martha Stewart’s website. It looked amazing. Melted bitter chocolate was stirred into the signature corn syrup custard before baking. You were left with all of the glory of a pecan pie, plus chocolate, without quite so much sweetness.
We had Thanksgiving out here with our ‘friends family’ this year, so I missed out on my mom’s pie back home. I kept thinking about it for a few days after Thanksgiving had passed. Then I decided I would alter and attempt the chocolate pecan pie I had seen on Martha’s website.
And guess what?! It came out. The pie filled the kitchen with a wonderfully fragrant scent of toasted pecans, chocolate, and butter pastry. We stuck it in the freezer to set up a bit more (we couldn’t wait the four hours) and devoured still-warm pieces with strong decaf coffee around midnight. This was my first time making a pecan pie in a few years, so I wrote down exactly what I did. I’m not sure if a few things here or there made a huge difference, but it came out, and so I suggest those same methods.
Meanwhile, the last two days have been a quest to find the perfect Christmas tree. In Colorado, you can obtain tree permits for $10 at the forest service stations. Then you can cut your own Christmas tree, given that it falls within the proper guidelines (National forest, 100 ft from a road, etc.). My boyfriend and I thought “Oh this will be so fun and easy!” and ending up spending three hours the first day driving and tromping around searching for one.
It’s actually more difficult than one would think. A perfect tree doesn’t exist in the wild. It hasn’t been pruned to perfection over the span of its life. You may think you’ve spotted a good one, and then when you approach it, you realize how massively large it is. Or that it’s a split tree. Colorado has plenty of conifers, but certain varieties look more like Christmas trees than others.
Well today was Day #2. We had a completely different game plan. Once we got it through our heads that whichever tree we chose would have imperfections, it made the hunting a lot easier.
The sun was out and warm, and it turned out to be a beautiful blue-skied day. After we unloaded the tree from the truck, we both ate a piece of chocolate pecan pie.
To make your own pie dough, follow this recipe from my Lemon-Pineapple Meringue Pie.
How to bake this high altitude adjusted recipe:
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from Everyday Food, November 2008
- Chocolate Pecan Custard:
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup pecan halves plus ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 recipe prepared pie dough
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Roll out the pie dough and line a pie pan. Line with a round of parchment paper and place pie weights or dried beans inside the shell. Bake for 20 minutes to par-bake the crust.
- Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Stir together the eggs, corn syrup, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
- Slowly stir in the melted bittersweet chocolate.
- Stir in the ½ cup chopped pecans (I do this because I like some extra pecans in my pie besides just the layer on top of the custard).
- Remove the parchment and pie weights from the pie shell.
- Pour the custard into the shell and arrange the 1 cup of pecan halves on top.
- Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the top of the pie is puffed and set.
- Cool on a wire rack. The pie needs to sit for about 4 hours until the custard cools down and can be cut without oozing everywhere.
Note: This recipe was adapted for high altitude baking. To bake at sea level, increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup and sugar to 1/2 cup. The pie will also bake for a shorter duration of time.