We recently visited the Big Easy on the Kings Road for the first time. Self-styled as ‘deluxe crab-shack dining’ this local institution transports you to another time and place, serving up lip-smacking, rib-sticking dishes; the perfect spot if you want a buzzing atmosphere and a big feed.
After polishing off platters of crab claws dripping in sweet drawn butter, smokey seafood, sticky ribs and piles of fries, our thoughts turned to dessert. Nine times out of ten I’ll choose a pudding based on its chocolate content, but if there’s pecan pie on the menu then the chocolate takes a back seat. It’s my ultimate indulgent Amercian pudding – nuggets of crumbly pecan set in a syrup so sweet it almost makes your teeth itch, all encased in warm, flakey pastry and served with a dollop of cold vanilla ice cream.
A week later a friend asked me to make dessert for a girly dinner, and my thoughts returned to pecan pie. Flicking through my recipe books, I found the following from my trusty Green & Blacks book. As you may have guessed, it’s got chocolate in. In fact the chocolate plays such a vital part it’s a cross between a pecan pie and a truffle torte. And that’s no bad thing. It’s still sweet, nutty and delicious, but slightly less cloying than a traditional pecan pie, and the ultimate addition to any baker’s repertoire. It’s also really simple to make – the pastry is whizzed up in a blender and the filling mixed in one other bowl.
Quick. Delicious. Easy as pie.
Chocolate Pecan Pie (adapted from the Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipe Book)
275g plain flour
75g icing sugar
150g cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 large egg yolks
Sift flour and icing sugar together then blend in a food processor with the butter. Add egg yolks at the end and bind into a pastry. Roll the pastry out thin, about 2mm, then roll round your rolling pin and drop onto a 28cm loose-based tart tin. Fill in any gaps with excess pastry and leave a slight edge – the pastry will shrink slightly while cooking.
Chill for 30 mins, then fill the case with baking beans, or uncooked rice, and bake for 15 mins at 180 degrees centigrade. Remove the baking beans then cook for 10 more minutes til a pale golden brown.
Remove from oven and reduce to 160 degrees centigrade.
275g dark chocolate
200g chopped shelled pecans (100g chopped, 100g reserved for decorating)
3 large beaten eggs
225g light soft brown sugar
250ml evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g melted butter
Melt the chocolate and butter together. Combine all the other filling ingredients (minus 100g whole pecan nuts), then add the chocolate and butter mixture.
Pour into pastry case and decorate with remaining pecan halves. Cook for an hour, covering with foil towards the end if necessary to present pastry from burning.