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Chocolate Pecan Pie

pieside

A few of you keen-eyed readers guessed that yesterday’s final “teaser” photo was of pecan pie.  But since I’m not particularly a “pie person” to begin with (I’ve posted about only one other pie in over a year on this blog–and it wasn’t even my own recipe!), and since I most definitely AM a chocolate person, I decided that my pecan pie had to include chocolate.  

Besides, La Martha’s mini-mag, Everyday Food, featured in its latest issue a recipe for chocolate pecan pie, and I’d been yearning for it ever since I saw the recipe. It looked gooey, yummy, decadent, festive, and very, very chocolatey.  Staring at the photo simply made me drool.  It was one heck of a perfectly baked, perfectly decorated, perfectly chocolatey Perfect Pecan Pie.

So I set about creating my own (sugar-free, wheat-free, vegan) version of this masterpiece.  The magazine’s photo was soooo enticing: meticulously arranged pecan halves baked into a slightly bubbly, sticky, engulfing ebony base of glossy chocolatey deliciousness.  I had to have that pie!

The only other pecan pie I’ve ever made was another vegan rendition, from my friend Caroline Dupont’s cookbook, Enlightened Eating.  I began with her suggestion to combine maple syrup and barley malt syrup, then played with the other elements to come up with what I thought a good approximation of Martha’s confection.  I fluted the pie crust, poured in the filling, popped it in the oven, and waited.

Remember those old sitcoms where the inept housewife (choose your favorite:  Lucy, Edith, Peggy, Marge) attempts to do the laundry for the first time, and ends up using about 4,576 times too much detergent?  And then the machine starts to rumble and wobble, and a stream of soap suds bubbles up over the washer’s lid and glides along the front of the machine and down to the floor, eventually making its way across the room in one massive, seething wave of froth? 

Well, that’s sort of what the top of this pie looked like after 30 minutes in the oven. The chocolate mixture bubbled and heaved and puffed like the contents of a witches’ cauldron.  firstpie2 The lovely fluted crust was coated in a gleam of dark, gooey, chocolatey filling, as were a few spots on the bottom of the oven.  All my perfectly placed pecan halves had been bobbing about in the foaming liquid like castaways afloat on the ocean, tossed this way and that,  messing up my beautiful, decorative arrangement entirely.  While it ended up tasting good, the pie looked horrendous.

For the second attempt, I used less filling and didn’t worry about perfectly placed pecan halves; I simply chopped them coarsely and folded them right into the filling.  Once again, there was a filling explosion that overtook crust, pie plate, and oven.  Curses!

Finally, it occurred to me:  let’s just take another look-see at Martha’s ideal recipe, why don’t we?  The pecans in her photo remained perfectly in position, nary a drop of filling even touching their sides.  On second thought, they were too perfect (sort of like Martha herself, no?): they were pristine and unscathed in their nakedness.  I re-read the recipe, and came upon this throwaway instruction:  “The pie filling puffs up dduring baking but settles as it cools.” AHA! Clearly, the photo did not represent this reality; like most food-styled pictures, this one had been assembled after the pie was baked, the raw pecan halves carefully placed atop an already-cooled pie!  Clever, Martha; very clever.

Well, if you can’t beat ’em, I say, then do them one better.  I revamped the recipe completely so that a pre-baked crust is subsequently filled with an unbaked filling.  Once the filling rests securely in the crust, then top with your perfectly formed, deliberately placed pecan halves, as decoration.  I proudly held up the finished product for the HH’s approval.  He took one look at my painstakingly positioned pecan halves and remarked, “It looks vaguely insectoid, don’t you think?”  Hmm. 

Despite the nutty carapace, this pie was heavenly.  Keep it cold for a dense, thick, toffee-like filling; or bring to room temperature for a softer, more gooey result.  Either way, it’s one perfectly baked, perfectly decorated, perfectly chocolatey Perfect Pecan Pie.

With its glossy, black, rich chocolate filling, I thought this would be the perfect submission to this month’s Sugar High Fridays, the event started by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess, and this month hosted by Susan at The Well Seasoned Cook.  The theme this time round is “All That Glitters.” 

Chocolate Pecan Pie

pecanpieslice6 Thick, rich, and toffee-like, this slightly non-traditional pecan pie is great for a holiday (or just your everyday) table. 

Crust:

1/4 cup (60 ml.) coconut oil

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic

2 tsp. (10 ml.) pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) water

1-1/2 c. (210 g.) light spelt flour

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) sea salt

1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) baking soda

Filling:

1-1/2 cups (120 g.) pecan pieces (use broken pecan halves)

1/2 cup (40 g.) pecan halves (about 30), for decoration, if desired

2/3 cup (160 ml.) pure maple syrup

1/3 cup (80 ml.) barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup, or any combination of the two

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) smooth cashew butter, at room temperature

1/8 tsp. (.5 ml.) sea salt

2/3 cup (170 g.) dairy-free chocolate chips

1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

First, make the crust:  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease an 8-1/2 or 9 inch (20 cm.) pie plate, or line bottom with parchment paper and grease sides.

In a small bowl, melt together the coconut butter and oil; whisk to blend.  Add the maple syrup and water and whisk again.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the salt and baking soda.  Pour the wet mixture over the dry and toss with a fork until blended, then use your hand to mix into a solid but still malleable dough.  Starting with the sides of the pie plate, press bits of dough along the edges and then the bottom until evenly distributed (you may need to press quite hard).  Flute edges if you wish, or press with the tines of a fork. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough ten or twelve times.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until the edges are browned and the rest is golden, rotating the pan once about halfway through.  Remove from the oven and pour the hot filling into the crust.

While the crust bakes, make the filling:

Place the broken pecan pieces in a small bowl, setting aside the 1/2 cup pecan halves, if desired.

In a medium pot, combine the maple syrup, barley malt and/or brown rice syrup, cashew butter, sea salt and chocolate chips.  Cook and stir over medium heat until everything is melted together and smooth.  Sprinkle with the arrowroot and whisk to combine.  Continue to cook and stir constantly until the mixture bubbles and boils, 5-10 minutes.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low (enough to keep it boiling but not enough for it to boil over the top of the pot) and cook for 10-15 more minutes, stirring frequently.  The mixture should become thicker and glossy, with a texture similar to corn syrup or molasses. Turn off heat and add the vanilla; then stir in the chopped nuts.  Pour the hot mixture into the baked pie crust and smooth the top if necessary.

If you’re decorating the pie with pecan halves, now is the time to do so, while the filling is still hot. Place the halves in a non-insectoid pattern and press slightly so they stick to the surface of the filling.  Allow the pie to cool completely at room temperature; then refrigerate until ready to serve.  Makes 8-12 slices.

NOTE: The pie may be eaten straight out of the fridge (we’ve certainly been enjoying it that way), but it’s best to take it out about 20 minutes before serving to soften up a little, which makes slicing easier.  Use a long, sharp knife that you dip in hot water and dry between cuts for easier slicing. 

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50 comments to Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • Never before have I so cursed my inability to find coconut oil…Pecan pie was one of my childhood favourites!

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  • coulditbeseitan

    Oooooh! This is like Kentucky Derby pie! I love how healthy your ingredient list is – I’m definitely going to try this one. Maybe for Thanksgiving!

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  • My husband is mad for pecan pie, for me, the addition of chocolate would be perfect!

    And congratulations for being so persistent, it certainly paid off with a beautiful and delicious looking pie. I have a tendency to get cranky when things don’t work out and start throwing things around my kitchen in a huff, never to attempt the recipe again 😛

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  • Sue

    Mmmm Ricki, another post to make my mouth water first thing in the morning! Now my usual oatmeal doesn’t seem quite so appealing… perhaps I’ll put some pecans in it, mmm and maple syrup… ok, sorry but I have to go…

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  • it already looked good but I was excited when I read it was a chocolate pecan pie – would you believe that the only time I have made pecan pie it was chocolate pecan pie – deliciously gooey and filled with lots of unhealthy stuff – I love your photos – looks wonderfully decadent!

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  • You totally just made ME a pie person now 😉

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  • I’m not a pie person but I think I can make an exception for this!

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  • Now you’ve got me feeling all confident about baking a pie. We’ll see…this one looks great. And just wondering, why the spelt instead of wheat?

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  • Ah, Lucy. How I love Lucy!
    Your pie looks amazing, and not insectoid… unless you find insects delicious! 🙂

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  • Courtney

    Holy Moly–that looks and sounds amazing! And I am not even a fan of pie…but I HAVE to make this. Soon!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Courtney

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  • You make me want this pie even though I don’t like sweets with nuts! The filling sounds so good (except for those darned pecans!)Maybe I’ll make it anyway – to share. I wish I were a tester!

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  • Just gorgeous Ricki. And I love the addition of maple syrup in the crust. I will try your pastry for sure, though I don’t make pie very often.

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  • Wow. That would turn even me into a pie person! That is beautiful!!

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  • You’ve been tagged… check out my blog! 🙂

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  • Oh, boy, what a gorgeous pie. A gorgeous chocolate pie! Thanks for the recipe. It looks so easy and way better than Martha’s.

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  • Shellyfish,
    I’m pretty sure you could just use Earth Balance if that’s something you have/use. Or any other pie crust, really!

    Coulditbeseitan,
    Thanks for your comment, and for visiting! I’ve heard of Kentucky Derby pie, but didn’t realize this was it! And I actually had Thanksgiving in mind for this baby (even though ours happened last month) 🙂

    Vegetation,
    I’m like you about most things, but something about baking just gets my curiosity going, and I end up tweaking the same recipe over and over until I’m happy with it. For me, that’s fun! (weird, I know. . . )

    Johanna,
    It does taste decadent, but in fact is waaaay healthier than “real” pecan pie!

    Michelle,
    I use spelt and other non-wheat flours for everything, ever since I was diagnosed with a wheat sensitivity in 1999. I’ve come to love spelt (way more than wheat!) and find that things made with wheat taste kind of bland to me now.

    Andrea,
    Aww, thanks! I bet this would be fine w/o the nuts as well, just a little more gooey. Or you could fold in something else you like, such as roasted pumpkin seeds, or how about some raisins or dried cranberries? Hmmm. . . I’m getting some ideas here. . . !

    Diann,
    It is pretty easy–and wow, I think I’ll email your comment to Martha’s site! 🙂

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  • Wow… i’ve only ever had pecan pie once. But this makes me want it twice 🙂

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  • giz

    Oh My Gawd!!!I personally don’t care if it looks like a witch’s cauldron. Pecan pie is my ultimate best of the best mostest (donja love my grammah?) favourite evahh!!! It would so be #1 on my stressbuster list. You have no idea how much I could use it today. AND…you’ve mixed it with chocolate…I hate you, I love you…I’m sooo confused.

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  • You have WAYYYY outdone yourself! between this pie and your last post.. holy moly!

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  • Why are you tempting me with all these dessert photos?! You are mean! (But I will forgive you if you send me a slice of pie!)

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  • Lovely! I admire your tenacity in trying the recipe several times to perfect it.

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  • Giz,
    Welcome to my world.

    CCV,
    Any time! Now, how do I mail it? 😉

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  • Oh my god, that looks AMAZING. Seriously. I want this at my Thanksgiving table now!

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  • Hi there! Your pecan pie looks amazing! I’ve been following your site for quite some time and finally started my own, so was hoping to add you! I’m not that much of a pie kinda girl, but your pecan pie is BEAUTIFUL! my mom would love it!

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  • Ah, the deception! That looks so good, I may just have to give it a whirl. I love that you used cashew butter in it, yum. My vote would be for cold, sounds soooo good!

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  • Pearl,
    Thanks for your comment, and thanks for visiting! Glad you like the look of the pie. I think your own version on your blog is pretty cool, too 🙂

    Alisa,
    It’s more like a candy when cold, more like a traditional pecan pie texture at room temp. Either way, I’m having a hard time not eating it. 😉

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  • wow that looks amazing. do you know is spelt flour is gluten-free?

    i used it months ago, but lately haven’t been using flours with gluten. i’d love to try this out.

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  • Monica

    I made this yesterday night. It is super fast to make and only takes one pan! Can’t get much better than that! Of course I did put the filling in a premade graham crust because I am lazy like that. This recipe is not overly sweet which I think health concious people would like. However, I made it for some non-vegan friends and it didn’t go over so well. It is the perfect recipe for something that is not over poweringly sweet, but might not be a good ‘conversion’ type recipe. Thought I would share.

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  • Joanna,
    Thanks for your comment! No, spelt flour is NOT gluten-free. It has about 30% less gluten than wheat flour, which is why I can eat it (and why it’s my most-used flour). I find the taste and texture closest to wheat of all the “alternative” flours.

    Monica,
    Thanks so much for your comment, and for visiting! Glad you liked the ease of preparation :). I had to smile at your comment about the sweetness, as I found this extremely sweet! I guess my taste buds have finally changed after all these years without refined sugar 😉 What was it your friends didn’t like about it?

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  • Mmm…I’m a sucker for pecan pie, which was my grandmother’s specialty! Thanks for the comment on my random things, so funny that we have so much in common!

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  • Chocolate pecan pie is one of my favorites! I love the look of the nuts in your piece of pie. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

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  • Oh, yum.

    You see, who needs animal products when something as beautiful as THAT pie – oh, that pie! – can be made without.

    Oh, yum.

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  • wow! I wish all holiday treats were as guilt-free as this one! looks fab Ricki!

    if you don’t mind, this would also be perfect for the vegetarian thanksgiving recipe event on my blog!:)

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  • my mom always makes pecan pie for the holidays, but i have never been a very big fan (who in the world knows why!) but i bet if she tried this recipe with the chocolate, i would be able to eat the whole thing! sounds great!

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  • I do love pecan pie and chocolate. I made a pecan pie of my own last week with a chocolate layer in the bottom. Of course mine was loaded with sugar! How clever of you to make one without! And the outcome is beautiful…

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  • Wow, this is really good looking! I have some pecan nuts that are going inmediately for baking this.
    Regards from Spain

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  • This sounds so good! Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday and I want to bring home a nice dessert – this might be a winner!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Let me know if you try the pumpkin scones, how they turn out 🙂

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  • I tried your recipe yesterday and it was really delicious! Thanks for sharing. Chocolate Pecan Pie is definitely much better than the more traditional kind.

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  • […] the recipe, see my other blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs. Posted by Ricki Filed in dairy free, egg free, fancy desserts, indulgent, pareve, pies and […]

  • Carapace? There’s no “Fear Factor” here. I adore your offering for SHF, Ricki. Hard to get more decadent than flaky pastry filled with nuts and chocolate. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  • Hi Ricki,

    I just looked through this recipe and realize that it
    is, unfortunately, not truly gluten-free. I’m wondering if you need to reclassify certain of your recipes as ‘”wheat-free”, as opposed to “gluten-free”.

    As a celiac, I have to be absolutely vigilant about avoiding even a speck of gluten. Inadvertent ingestion causes absolutely terrible symptoms — anything from painful bloating and diarrhea to a profusely bleeding colon. Spelt flour is “wheat-free”, but it nonetheless contains gluten, as does barley-malt syrup. Here’s one of many sites that will confirm that Spelt is not gluten-free: http://www.celiaccentral.org/Research/Research_News/Celiac_Disease_Research_News/130/pg__1/vobId__177/.

    Here’s a list of ‘avoid-at-all-cost” foodstuffs for celiacs:
    Wheat in all forms including spelt, kamut, triticale (a combination of wheat and rye), durum, einkorn, farina, semolina, cake flour, matzo (or matzah) and couscous.//Ingredients with “wheat” in the name including wheat starch, modified wheat starch, hydrolyzed wheat protein and pregelatinized wheat protein. (Buckwheat, which is gluten free, is an exception.)//Barley malt, which is usually made from barley, and malt syrup, malt extract, malt flavoring and malt vinegar.// Breaded or floured meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. Also meat, poultry and vegetables when they have a sauce or marinade that contains gluten, such as soy and teriyaki sauces.// Licorice, imitation crab meat, beer, most is fermented from barley. (Specialty gluten-free beer is available from several companies.)//

    I hope this helps when you alert your readers to the content of your recipes.

    Have you experimented with buckwheat, teff, or rice flour?

    Patricia

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  • Patricia,

    I’m not sure where you see “gluten-free” on this recipe–it’s in the category “wheat-free,” but not “gluten-free.” I do know that spelt has gluten, and don’t classify my spelt-containing recipes as GF. The filling, however, is indeed GF, so if you have a favorite GF pie crust, you can use it in that. In the GF Recipe Index at right, I include the filling, but am sure to tell people to use a GF crust. 🙂

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  • I’m so excited to try making this pie for my Thanksgiving this year! It looks delicious!

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  • Hi Ricki!

    this was delicious!
    I baked it a week ago, but I came across with other issues because I didn’t realize that I was running out of some ingredients when I decided to bake it. I did some changes to adjust it to the availability of the ingredients and it turned out a different but very tasty chocolate-pecan pie.
    I wrote a little bit about this experience on my blog, you can read the changes there: http://daisyuw.blogspot.com
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes with us and your funny stories too (some make me laugh so much!):).

    Happy Holidays!
    Susana.

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  • Stefanie

    Can you freeze this pie?

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    Ricki Reply:

    Stefanie, yes, but you have to defrost overnight in the fridge (not at room temperature). Hope that helps!

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