Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chocolate Chai Chess Pie

Our goal...
After an almost two year hiatus, the crazy pie train finally rides again! This time we’ve gone all the way to the east coast to break in our shiny new kitchen. And in honor of this momentous occasion, Terry has finally let me be a guest poster!

In my ongoing attempt to convince Terry that Charleston is the best city in the world and he should move here immediately, I knew that we should go with a Southern staple—chess pie. Our brand new house obviously deserved its own brand new pie book, so I bought Allison Kave’s First Prize Pies. Rather than a basic buttermilk or lemon chess pie, we decided to go with her chai chess pie (in honor of my brownness). We also went with the chocolate pie crust to complement the spiced filling.

Look at the awesome island we get to bake pies on! 
Chocolate Crust 
Servings: 1 double-crust 9" pie

1/2 cup whole milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
12 oz. all-purpose flour (chilled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup rendered leaf lard (or additional butter)
  1. Stir together vinegar and milk and refrigerate until ready to use
  2.  On a clean flat surface (such as your new granite island!) or a shallow bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt
  3. Add butter (and lard if using) to the dry ingredients and cut the fat into the flour until the mixture has been reduced to pea-sized chunks
  4. Spread the mixture out to expose as much surface area as possible, and drizzle half of the milk mixture over the flour
  5.  Lightly toss the flour over the liquid, and then spread mixture out and repeat with remaining milk
  6.  Cover dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour
Not the prettiest crust, but it does the job
Your goal is to have dough that will just hold together when pressed against the side of a bowl. We needed to add a few more splashes of milk to get the correct consistency. We’re also terrible at reading directions, and were confused when we had enough dough for two pies…

Ground spices 
Servings: 1- 9" pie

4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chai tea mixture (we used tea powder, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, allspice, orange peel and white pepper)
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°
  2. Roll out the dough into a circle about 11cm in diameter and transfer it to a 9-in pie pan (or smush the dough into the pan with your fingers like an adult)
  3. Blind bake the crust for 20 min until partially baked then let cool. Turn the oven down to 350°
  4. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy
  5. Whisk in the tea mixture, flour, butter, and salt
  6. Pour the filling into the crust and baked 25-30 min until the filling has just set and is still slightly jiggly in the center
  7.  Cool completely before serving.
Action shot 
In our attempts to figure out our new oven’s quirks, we accidentally overbaked the pie and passed the perfect gooey stage. Luckily the center still was the perfect consistency. Even so, the filling was a great spicy improvement on your standard chess pie, and was even better when it was cold. Next time I think I’d switch out the instant ice tea powder for ground black tea leaves to get a stronger tea flavor (though the iced tea was a nice tribute to the southern theme). We also topped our slices with freshly whipped cream, which I highly recommend.

Final product! Somehow it doesn't look like the picture in the book...

This actually ended up being one of our less successful pies. Turns out when you stop baking pies for two years, you forget about the simple things, like covering the outer crust and that pies continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Luckily our new cookbook has a pie for each week of the year, so we will have plenty of practice ahead! That being said, you can never go too wrong with butter and sugar. Overall this was the perfect way to break in our new house (along with the obligatory champagne and dance party).

Rather than trying to cut slices with a plastic knife, we ate out of the pie plate like the grownups we are

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