Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

I love the creaminess and the subtle aroma of pumpkin in desserts, but somehow pumpkin pie was not in my list of favorite desserts until I added chocolate to the filling. This way you still have the nice texture of pumpkin, but the flavor is deeper, richer and, of course, chocolate always makes everything more delicious, flirting gently with all the pumpkin pie spices.

The origin of this recipe (without the chocolate added) is from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
Ingredients: (Serves 8)
  • One single-crust pie dough (See recipe)
  • 6 oz (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
  • One 16-oz can pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 slightly beaten eggs
  • One 5-oz can (2/3 cup) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Whipped cream or mascarpone cheese, for serving (optional)


  • Prepare the single-crust pie dough.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  • Roll out the dough with your hands or with a rolling pin (dusted w/ a little flour) from center to the edges to a circle about 12 inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface (or on a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap that's big enough to accommodate the circle).
  • To transfer the dough, wrap it around the rolling pin and unroll it into a 9-inch pie plate (or transfer it with the parchment paper or plastic wrap and turn it upside down into the pie plate). Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch it (if you stretch it, it will shrink right back during baking). Keep it in the fridge until you prepare the filling.
  • Melt the chocolate chips on a double boiler. Turn off the heat and let it sit, until the rest of the filling is prepared.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (instead of using 3 different spices, you can also use 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice). Add eggs and beat lightly until just combined. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and milk, mix well. Add the melted chocolate and mix gently until combined.
  • Place the pastry-lined pie plate on the oven rack. Carefully pour filling into pastry shell.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let it cool to room temperature, and then store it in the fridge before serving. Serve with whipped cream or mascarpone cream.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pie Dough (Pate Brisee)

This is Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe which is the French version of classic pie or tart pastry (with my additions, since I do not own a food processor, and you do not need to own one to make pie dough).
It is a good solid recipe which you can use for both sweet and savory pies and tarts.

Ingredients: (Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water


  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds. - If you do not own a food processor, use your hands or a pastry blender to work the butter pieces into the dry ingredients in a bowl to achieve the same result.
  • With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. - If you do not own a food processor, add water to the coarse meal in the bowl gradually (first start with less than 1/4 cup, then continue adding 1 tablespoon at a time if necessary), and gently mix with your hands or with a fork, until you achieve moist clumps. - Form dough into a ball.
  • Divide the dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour before use. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

Additional points:

  • Martha Stewart's "golden rule" for pies: Make it cold, bake it hot. To achieve a flaky pie crust, it's very important that butter and water are ice-cold (Some people even let the dry ingredients and tools chill in the fridge before making the dough). It is also a good idea to keep the pie pan in the fridge after you lined it with the pie dough until you prepare the filling (if you haven't prepared it already).
  • Do not add more water than necessary when you achieve the moist clump stage and do not overwork the dough, these would cause the dough to become tough; the dough will come together more as it chills in the fridge.
  • Pressing the dough into a disc (rather than shaping it into a ball) allows it to chill faster. This will also make the dough easier to roll out, and if you freeze it, it will thaw more quickly.