I’m committing to blogging every weekday in January: sometimes about big important topics, sometimes about small everyday ones. Today I’m blogging about chocolate pie.
Every year, usually during the holidays, people write or comment to tell me they’re making my chocolate pie. I can’t argue: my chocolate pie is ridiculously delicious and ridiculously easy. This holiday season, I did some new variations on the classic recipe. One of the nicer things about this recipe is that it’s easy to adjust for extra flavorings: the unbaked filling is yummy, you can eat it with a spoon if you don’t mind a bit of raw egg, so you can just keep tasting it until the pepper or cardamom or whatever is to your taste. (The basic recipe is at the end of this post: you can also find it here.)
Rosemary Almond Chocolate Pie. This was a big risk — I wasn’t at all sure how it would turn out, and it’s not adjustable the way the other variants are — but it’s been a big hit. The flavors are unexpected but delicious, and the rosemary makes it both sophisticated and Christmassy. (I don’t know why I think of rosemary as Christmassy, it grows like a weed in our backyard year-round, but there you have it.)
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary, to taste
1/2 cup sliced almonds (slivered or chopped is probably fine)
Directions: Rinse rosemary and remove leaves from stems. Melt one stick of butter. Sautée rosemary for a few minutes, remove from heat and let sit for about an hour (away from Comet, who will eat any butter that’s left sitting out). Filter out rosemary with a sieve (heat again if necessary). Use butter to make pie filling as usual. Add sliced almonds just before baking (slivered or chopped almonds are probably fine, we just usually have sliced ones around the house).
Note: Rosemary is a STRONG GODDAMN FLAVOR. I like strongly flavored things — I hate it when something is advertised as cardamom lime and you can barely taste either — but rosemary can easily overpower. I used a couple of big sprigs (including little branches), and it was delicious, but it wasn’t subtle. I asked Ingrid how it was, and she diplomatically said, “I wouldn’t use any more than that.” It did, however, get eaten like it was the last pie on the Titanic. Adjust to your own taste.
(Credit where credit is due: I swiped the idea from Dynamo Donuts, who makes a rosemary almond chocolate donut.)
Greta’s Signature Spice Blend. This was one of the first variations I did. I based it on a spice blend I used to put in coffee when I was trying to replicate the spice blend they use at Philz. I failed to replicate it, but came up with a spice blend that works well an coffee and awesomely in chocolate pie.
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
Directions: Add to pie filling before baking. Stir well. Adjust to taste: I tend to keep adding a little more pepper and a little more cardamom.
Note: While not as aggressive as rosemary, cardamom can also be a strong flavor. When adjusting to taste, and adding a little more and a little more and a little more cardamom, it can quickly go from “Ooo, what’s that interesting blend, it’s so perfectly balanced I can’t quite tease out all the flavors” to “I AM CARDAMOM, SUBMIT AND OBEY.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if it’s not what you’re going for, be advised.
1/4 tsp five-spice blend
Directions: Add to pie filling before baking. Stir well. Adjust to taste.
Note: This is just straight-up yummers. The blend of bitey and sweet spices just goes perfectly with chocolate.
(Credit where credit is due: I swiped the idea from Poco Dolce, who makes an awesome five-spice chocolate bar.)
I tried making this with kahlua, and it just didn’t fly. When you add enough kahlua to get any noticeable flavor, it changes the texture and makes it soupy. If anyone makes a liqueur variation that works, please let me know.
If you’ve made variations in this chocolate pie, let me know! I’m no longer hosting comments on this blog (moderating them became too much of a stressful time-suck), but you can email me at gretachristina (at) gmail (dot) com.
Here’s the basic recipe for chocolate pie. For more details, including the history and philosophy of this pie, visit my previous post about it.
1 single pie crust (this is an open-faced pie), homemade if possible, store-bought if not
1 stick butter
2 squares/ ounces baking chocolate (unsweetened), Scharffen Berger’s if possible
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. evaporated milk
Whipped cream (optional)
Bake the unfilled pie shell for 5-10 minutes at 450 degrees, until it’s starting to firm up a little but isn’t cooked through. Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan. Add the other ingredients and mix; you can do this in the saucepan. (I add the eggs last, so the melted butter and chocolate have a chance to cool and the eggs don’t scramble.) Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 325 degrees, until the filling is set. (I usually test it at 30 minutes, but it usually still needs another 5-10 minutes. When it’s no longer jiggling in the middle, it’s done.) Extra good served with whipped cream. Happy eating!
Five spices photo by Tim Sackton, via Wikimedia Commons.