Chocolate Hazelnut Pie

I had prepped to blog about some chicken with cream sauce dish I’d made, when I saw on my Facebook news feed that tomorrow, Jan. 23 is National Pie Day. (It’s what happens when you’re a fan of King Arthur Flour… yes, I’m a geek, but we’ve established that awhile ago.) So in honor of such an illustrious day, I put this one at the head of the posting queue even though I’ve been blogging about things I made back in September, and this delicious pie was made for Thanksgiving.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving at home and hosted friends and their new baby (well, the baby belongs to only two of them, but that’s probably assumed and besides the point.) Every year, I go through this internal debate about what pie to make for T Day. Apple? Pumpkin? Pecan? The internal debate gets even more complicated because I feel like pumpkin is a must have, but there’s always some idiot guest who doesn’t like pumpkin, even in delicious pie form. So despite the additional work it creates on a day of already long hours spent in the kitchen, I always make a second pie. Frankly, I could have made this, but I didn’t know of its existence until a pie plan had already been made.

I cannot tell a lie– I make a fabulous apple pie, and damn well should as I actually spent a summer perfecting that craft. (No complaints from John despite eating an apple pie each week for 3 months.) But what’s the fun of cooking if you can’t challenge yourself to something new? I love pecan pie and there’s an additional challenge to make a good one since John’s mom made such fabulous pecan pies, so in the continuing internal debate, pecan pie was edging out apple to join its pumpkin friend on our table. Only problem? Above mentioned friends do not like pecans.

I just… I just… I can’t… I… I don’t understand how you can’t like pecans?! There so buttery and delicious, the natural embodiment of heavenly toffee taste. To say you don’t like pecans is like saying you don’t like adorable puppies in my book. (Yes, I’m judgmental, but I believe we also established that awhile ago.) But to take a negative and turn it into something positive, I accepted this as my challenge. Hazelnuts were apparently acceptable as a nut, so rather than going the cream pie route, I thought I’d try making a chocolate hazelnut pie in the style of a caramely pecan one.

Success! The chocolate was gooey and vibrant with hazelnut flavor, thanks to a shot of Frangelico. It had the melty, creamy consistency of a good, freshly made ganache which paired so nicely with the buttery crunch of the toasted hazelnuts. And to make this even better? We topped it off with that pecan pie staple: bourbon spiked whipped cream. I still crave a good caramel pecan pie, something I don’t think I’ve had since my last Christmas with my mother-in-law, but now my holiday debate may be drawn and quartered as this chocolate hazelnut pie will definitely want to make a come back.

Bourbon Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 3 tbsp sugar

Blind bake the pastry shell: roll out the prepared dough and set it in a 9 inch pie pan. With the tines of a fork, prick the sides and bottom of the pie dough then set in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Lay a piece of foil over the pie shell and weigh it down with dried beans or pie weights– enough to cover the bottom of the pie shell and spread out to all sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the foil with your weights from the pie plate. Using the back of a spoon, press down any bubbles that may have formed in the dough. Back for an additional 5-10 minutes or until crust is golden. During this last bake, whisk together 1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt. Brush this egg wash over the bottom and sides of the dough and return to the oven for another 1-2 minutes. You can do this a day in advance as long as you reheat the pie shell so it’s hot to the touch when you get ready to pour in your pie filling.

In a an oven preheated to 375 degrees, toast the hazelnut pieces. This should take about 5-10 minutes, but watch them to make sure they don’t burn, stirring them around every now and then to ensure even toasting. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, Frangelico and salt.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Place bowl in the microwave and set on full power for 30 seconds. Take the bowl out and stir the chips around. Continue to microwave in 10-20 second intervals, stirring the chocolate to ensure even melting and no burning. This should take maybe 3-4 more turns. When you have mostly melted chocolate and a few chips, you can stop microwaving and just keep stirring the chocolate, allowing the residual heat to do the rest of the work for you.

Mix about a quarter of the batter into the chocolate then add all of this back to the rest of the batter. Fold in the hazelnuts. Pour all of this into the hot pie shell (if you made the shell the day before you can let it heat back up by putting it in the oven while you make the filling) and bake for 35-45 minutes. It should be baked at the edges but wiggly in the center. The filling will firm up as it cools, at least 1.5 hours before serving.

When ready to serve, put the heavy cream in a mixing bowl and mix on high speed for about a minute before adding in the sugar, bourbon, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy and dollop giant spoonfuls on pieces of pie.

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