Gran’s Chocolate Pie

(Get to the chocolate pie goodness right now-right now.)
Gran's Chocolate Pie

The contents of my suitcase are piled on the laundry room floor. The fridge is (mostly) restocked. And Zeus is back from Cannon Beach, where he had perhaps the most epic three-day puppy sleepover one could imagine. 

Garrett and I had our own epic sleepover at Gran and Gramps – complete with football watching, shakshuka eating, and beer sampling.

There were filets topped with lobster and gimlets chilled from the freezer. There were cookies, eggs piquant, and slow braised tri-tip. But most of all – there was family. Which is my favorite.

We chatted over tea, coffee, and glasses of wine. We chatted in the morning and long after the sunset. We discussed books and the weather. We swapped tales of injuries. (Gramps once split his arm open from wrist-to-elbow on a stick – all the way to the bone!) We shared bits from our travels and our up-and-comings. And Saturday night, after a rather indulgent adventure at the Boise Bacon and Beer Benefit, we had dinner with Garrett’s Aunt Sharla and her amazing family. Garrett and Wai, Sharla’s husband, talked shop (IT to be precise). The two chillins (aka supper rad ‘children’) regaled us with the benefits of iPhone stands and bucket list items. We hugged. We laughed. And the three days flew by toooooo fast.

Boise Bacon and Beer Benefit

It wasn’t a splashy vaca. It wasn’t a sun bathing, late-night dancing, fist bumping kind of getaway. It was a bit more wholesome than that – the kind of wholesome that fills your heart with joy and sends you home a little better than when you arrived.

Boise with Gran and Gramps

Because that’s just the kind of people Gran and Gramps are. They’re honest, loyal, and kind.

In many ways, they’re a lot like Gran’s famous chocolate pie. They’re not fancy. Nor are they ‘light’ on love. They are the kind of folks who wrap you in comfort – the kind of comfort that sticks to you long after you’ve left.

Chocolate Pies

Gran and Gramps made Gran’s famous chocolate pie when they stayed with us in August for Krysta and Brandon’s wedding. In fact, they made four of these bad boys. They were the rehearsal dinner dessert. And let me tell you, they are the kind of sweet treat deserving of a celebration.

Around here, we won’t be making another pie anytime soon. We have a few bacon-beer-lobster pounds to lose. (And for me dim sum, ice cream, and burrata!!)

But good golly, once I’m trimmed up can someone have a wedding or a birthday or a something so we can make one of these pies?


Gran’s Chocolate Pie

The chocolate filling ingredients are for two pies, but Gran likes to use 2 pies worth of filling for what she calls a ‘full’ pie. Who am I to argue with gran or more chocolate?

9 TBS Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
4 TBS butter
1½ cups sugar
½ tsp salt
6 TBS cornstarch
2 2/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
2 cups water
6 egg yolks
1 TBS vanilla

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, cocoa and butter with the carnation evaporated milk and water mixture over low heat.

Cook until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Add small amount of custard mixture to egg yolks; mix and pour into remaining custard over heat. Cook 3 or 4 minutes longer. Add vanilla and pour into baked pie shell.  (Crust must still be warm when filling is added.)

When pie is cool, top with whipped cream


Foolproof Single-Crust Pie Dough

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes enough for one 9-inch pie

Notes from Gran: Vodka is essential to the tender texture of this crust and imparts no flavor – do not substitute water. This dough is moister than most standard pie doughs and will require lots of flour to roll out (up to 1/4 cup). A food processor is essential to making this dough – it cannot be made by hand.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 TBS sugar
½ tsp salt
6 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
4 TBS vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces and chilled
2 TBS vodka, chilled
2 TBS ice water

Process ¾ cup flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds.  Scatter butter and shortening over top and process until incorporated and mixture begins to form uneven clumps with no remaining floury bits, about 10 seconds.

Scrape down sides of bowl and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup flour over dough and pulse until mixture has broken up into pieces and is evenly distributed around bowl, 4 to 6 pulses.

Transfer mixture to bowl.  Sprinkle vodka and ice water over mixture.  Using rubber spatula, stir and press dough until it sticks together.

Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap.  Form dough into 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes, before rolling.  (Wrapped dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.  If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling.)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack, and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side.  Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand.  Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate.  Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate.  Flute dough or press the tines of a fork against dough to flatten it against rim of pie plate.  Wrap dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic and refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes, before using.

Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with double layer of foil, covering edges to prevent burning, and fill with pie weights.  Bake until pie dough looks dry and is pale in color, about 15 minutes.  Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake for 4 to 7 minutes additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp.  Transfer pie plate to wire rack.

(Crust must still be warm when filling is added.)


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