Old-fashioned buttermilk pie is as sweet and tangy as it is comforting, and it’s the perfect canvas for showcasing buttermilk’s unique flavor. Here, the custard bakes in a gorgeous dark brown, bittersweet chocolate crust with a texture somewhere between a cookie and a traditional pie dough. Both the brown sugar and the buttermilk in the filling play beautifully off the chocolate in the dough, as does the final sprinkle of turbinado sugar pre-bake, which adds a caramel-like finish.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub the cubes into the dry ingredients, until they are mostly pea-size or a little larger. Add the water and vinegar in three additions, tossing with your fingers after each. Knead the dough two or three times in the bowl until it comes together in a crumbly mass.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, forming it into a disk, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
On a generously floured surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle. (It may be crumbly at first around the edges; use your fingers to smooth.)
Gently transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trim any excess, and decoratively crimp the edges. (If the dough tears as you move it, just use your fingers to mend it.) Place in the freezer for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pie dough and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the weights, and bake for 5 minutes more. Place the pie plate on a cooling rack, and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. (If the dough has puffed up, use the back of a spoon to gently press the dough flat again.) Brush the crust with the egg white, and let cool completely.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, cornstarch, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking vigorously after each. Add the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla, and whisk for 30 seconds.
Pour the filling into the crust, and generously sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar. Bake until the center jiggles only slightly, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating halfway through and covering loosely with foil the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent the crust from overbrowning. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate after 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
The pie can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but it is best within 24 hours of baking.
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