My good friends Lora and Joe are about to have a baby girl! Lil' sugar biscuit, we're calling her. And earlier this month, we had a little biscuit brunch celebration for this new family to-be at the Greensboro, North Carolina artist collaborative and living museum in a former thrift store, Elsewhere.
This was my second time at Elsewhere. I had visited previously when I first moved to North Carolina; my friend Ross, who helped start the place was visiting and invited me to come. I wasn't sure what to expect from what I imagined was a wildly quirky and fascinating place, but I remember making the trip armed with my fiddle, camera, and a few rolls of film, figuring they were appropriate tools for the adventure. I ended up using both, as I wandered the installations of baby tornados, denim log cabin, and creepy tea party, and eventually befriended two Irish artists who were working on a performance/spatial practice piece "Elsewhere Cleaning Inc." where they would go into willing "customers'" homes, "re-curate" a room, then interview them about the experience and spatial arrangement. They were running a spot on a local radio station for the project, so they enlisted me and together we composed a little jingle for the cleaning company.
For this trip to Elsewhere, I still brought my camera, film, and fiddle, but I also equipped myself with two pies-- a Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie and a Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecake Pie (recipe coming soon), both from Gourmet. Earlier that week, Gourmet Live had posted a "food fight" photo between the two pies and when I reposted their photos, Lora, the mama to-be, suggested I bring both, so we could judge for ourselves. We brought the chocolate pecan to the baby shower, and stowed away the pumpkin for our sleep-over treat later that evening.
This is actually the second time I've posted this Bittersweet Chocolate-Pecan Pie recipe. I made it about two years ago for Thanksgiving at my friend Jamie's family's home in Potomac, Maryland (see the post here). It was as big a hit then as it was this time, the bittersweet chocolate cutting a bit of the over-sweetness that pecan pie can often have. And you really can't go wrong with the chocolate-pecan combo (see some other variations here, including a vegan option). This is also a pie that we're offering for Thanksgiving orders this year, but regardless of whether you order from Nothing-in-the-House or make it yourself (it's quite easy!), this is a great choice for your feast's dessert table.
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
Adapted from Gourmet
Nothing-in-the-house pie crust, halved
1 4-oz., 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped
2 cups pecan halves, toasted and cooled
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup agave-maple syrup blend or light corn syrup
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the rolled and fitted crust back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water. Stir and remove from heat when melted.
3. Roll out chilled dough and place in a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan, fluting the crust decoratively.
4. Spread chocolate in the bottom of pie shell and let set a bit, then cover with pecans. Whisk eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and agave-maple blend (or corn syrup) in a bowl. Pour over pecans.
5. Bake pie until filling is puffed and crust is golden brown, 40-50 minutes. Serve with bourbon whipped cream and enjoy!
Along with the pie on the Elsewhere baby shower spread, there were delicious pumpkin-cornmeal and buttermilk biscuits by Julie and Lora; assorted jams, preserves, and spreads, including a bacon marmalade, French Schezuan fig-peppercorn confiture, and homemade apple butter; pear-almond cake, and mimosa fixin's. We enjoyed the spread, made Lora open presents (sorry again, lady!), decorated onesies & other sugar biscuit attire with fabric stamps, and took a creep-tea tour of Elsewhere's upstairs haunts--the ghost room, apothecary, and fabric fort, all in this lovely (and slightly creepy??--there were dismembered baby dolls as our centerpiece) celebration and reunion of friends from all over.
In talking with some Elsewhere employees and artist residents, I learned that they were planning an election pie party, where they made a pie for every state. I was REALLY disappointed that I couldn't stick around for that, but you can find photos of the event and every pie on the Elsewhere Facebook page.