Thursday, February 09, 2012

Dark Chocolate & Vanilla-Bourbon Salted Caramel Pie

I found myself at the grocery store one evening last week, realizing the moment I walked in that I needed to make something (ok, a pie) to bring to a friend's farm I was visiting the next day. I was caught defenseless, though, there among the cabbages and screaming babbies, unarmed without a list of ingredients, recipe ideas, or ability to obtain them (my phone is not smart). I scoured the aisles for cookbooks, considered asking a man texting on his iphone in the bulk nuts section if he would look something up for me, and finally called Brent and had him frantically google searching Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies to see if any appropriate recipes were posted anywhere. No luck. I ended up not getting any ingredients for pie, but on the way home, had a sudden jolt of inspiration--all those salted caramels I'd been making (for our upcoming Tart of Gold party) would be just fine in a pie crust! Not to mention with dark chocolate on top...

I had all the ingredients, having made vanilla-bourbon salted caramels the night before and remembering I'd spotted a leftover bar of baker's chocolate on my shelf. So I improv-ed this guy, combining elements from two favorite recipes as of late--the chocolate from this dark-chocolate sea salt tart, and the salted caramel from Judicial Peach. I threw in some vanilla-bourbon my friend Lora had given me as a housewarming present, and we had ourselves a winner.

Dark Chocolate & Vanilla-Bourbon Salted Caramel Pie

For crust:
Follow Nothing-in-the-house pie crust recipe (I used half whole-wheat pastry flour, mainly out of necessity, but the grainy texture of the whole wheat flour was a nice compliment to the smooth & rich chocolate caramel)

For caramel:
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 c.heavy cream
4 Tblsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 teaspoon bourbon barrel-aged vanilla

For chocolate:
7 oz. 60-70% dark chocolate (unsweetened), broken into pieces
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt

For crust:
1. Follow instructions for Nothing-in-the-house pie crust. Chill crust for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll out pastry until it is about 12 in. in diameter. Grease and flour 10-in. pie pan and transfer crust to pan, trimming off excess crust. Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes to help prevent shrinkage during baking.
2. Remove crust from fridge and line with parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans, and blind bake for 20 minutes. Take out paper and weights and bake for 5-8 more minutes until tart is fully baked. Let cool. 
For caramel:
1. In a small pot, bring the cream, butter, and sea salt to a simmer, over medium heat. Do not let boil.  Once it has reached a simmer, turn off the heat, and set aside.

2. In a deep saucepan, combine water, corn syrup, and sugar.  Over medium-high heat, stir only until the sugar has dissolved.  Then allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, until the mixture is a warm, golden brown. This takes at least 10 minutes, but  make sure to watch it carefully, as the caramel can burn quickly toward the end. 

3.  When the sugar mixture is done, remove from the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture.  Be careful as it will bubble up violently.  Stir in the vanilla-bourbon.

4.  Return the mixture to heat and cook over medium until a candy thermometer reads 248 degrees F, about 10 minutes.  Pour the caramel into the baked pie crust and let cool. Once it is cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until caramel is firm and set (it can still be a little tacky to the touch). Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate ganache.

For chocolate:
1. Put chocolate, sugar, heavy cream and salt into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick.
2. Pour chocolate ganache over the chilled, set caramel and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve at room temperature.

I packed this baby up in my double decker Amish pie carrying basket, hopped in the truck, and we were off, braving the Friday D.C. rush hour traffic en route to a farm outside of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Though the evening set in quickly, I got a glimpse of Virginia wine country and its dreamy stone cottages on the way up. It was dark by the time we arrived, but the stars were bright, and we were greeted by a home-cooked dinner in a wood stove-heated farmhouse. It didn't take us too long to cut into the pie. I was nervous because of its improvised nature, but it was a real hit--and as one taster commented, was like a homemade Heath bar in a crust. I'll take it...and I'd better make it again--among five eaters, only one slice remained, and it was hard to save it.


bobbie dee said...

WHAT. make this pie again at home. now!!!

emily said...

haha...I got a lotta baking to do this weekend, but will make again soon!

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