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Chicory Coffee Pecan Pie

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Serves 8 to 10

Yields one 9-inch pie

  • by David Guas from Fine Cooking
    Issue 113

It’s a beloved New Orleans tradition to add roasted, ground chicory root to coffee. The resulting chicory coffee, which you can buy at well-stocked grocery stores, adds a delicious bitter undertone to this pie. If you can’t find chicory coffee, use dark-roasted regular coffee.
 

For the pie dough
  • 7-1/2 oz. (1-2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 5 to 7 Tbs. ice water
For the filling
  • 1/4 cup ground chicory coffee, such as Café Du Monde or Community Coffee
  • 1/2  cup plus 2 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
Make the pie dough

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the largest pieces are about the size of corn kernels, 8 to 12 one-second pulses. Drizzle 5 Tbs. of the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture becomes a moist, crumbly-looking dough that holds together when squeezed in your hand, 4 to 6 pulses. If the dough is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of ice water and test again.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Gently gather and press the dough into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour.

Let the dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly (it should be firm but not rock hard), 5 to 20 minutes, depending on how long it was chilled. Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface with a lightly floured rolling pin until it’s about 13 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. Roll from the center of the dough to the edges and try to use as few passes as possible to avoid overworking the dough. After every few passes, run an offset spatula or a bench knife under the dough to be sure it isn’t sticking, and give the dough a quarter turn. Reflour the work surface and rolling pin only as needed—excess flour makes the crust tough.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it into the plate. You can also fold the dough in half and unfold it into the plate. To fit the dough into the plate, gently lift the edges to create enough slack to line the sides without stretching the dough. Trim off all but 3/4 inch of the overhang. Roll the dough under itself to build up the edge of the crust. Crimp the edge of the crust with your fingers. With the tines of a fork, prick the crust all over. Chill for up to 1 hour in the refrigerator or about 30 minutes in the freezer.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line the piecrust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the bottom looks dry and the edges are golden, 5 to 7 minutes more. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and put a large, rimmed baking sheet on the oven rack.

Make the filling
Tip:
Pour the filling over the pecans in a slow, spiral motion; if you go too fast, the pecans may move, leaving gaps in the finished pie.

Combine the chicory coffee and cream in a 1-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat just until small bubbles form at the edge of the cream, 3 minutes. Stir, remove from the heat, and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and reserve.

Put the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl set on a kitchen towel and add the vanilla. Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, coffee mixture, and salt in a 1-quart saucepan. Heat over medium heat just until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisking vigorously and constantly, very slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the yolks. Strain through a fine strainer set over a 1-quart measuring cup.
 

Fill and bake the pie

Spread the pecans evenly in the piecrust. Slowly pour the filling over the pecans. Put the pie on the baking sheet and bake until the center of the pie is slightly firm to the touch and the filling doesn’t wobble when the pie is nudged, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

The pie dough may be made up to 1 month ahead; wrap it well in plastic wrap and foil and freeze it. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before rolling it out. The pie can be made up to 1 day ahead (store covered with plastic at room temperature), but it's best eaten warm.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 600; Fat (g): 43; Fat Calories (kcal): 380; Saturated Fat (g): 20; Protein (g): 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): 50; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 260; Cholesterol (mg): 230; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This is quite possibly the best dessert I've ever had. I love pecans and like pecan pie, but it is too sweet, even for my sweet tooth. This pie has the very pleasant, bitter coffee flavor to complement the sugar. And the crowning touch is the salt: I used Mediterranean Sea Salt, and the large grains did not melt completely, so they drizzled on top of the pie. It's like a salt caramel mocha. It is not difficult to make, and very delicious. I was able to find chicory coffee in my local Safeway, which I think was important, although a french roast or espresso roast would work fine. You want the coffee strong and bitter. The pie crust was the easiest I've made, entirely in the food processor. It came out great. I would really recommend that method to people who are afraid of pie crust.

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