Chocolate Midnight Pie

Are you looking for a deep, dark, dense chocolate pie, one whose filling is so moist it glistens, one which that makes its own light, crisp-crackly topping? Voilà — you've found it. The complementary coffee-flavored crust is icing on the cake... er, pie!

Chocolate Midnight Pie

Yield: 1 pie, 10 servings.


  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons milk or cream (half and half, light, heavy, or whipping)

  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur* (e.g., Kahlua), or substitute strong brewed coffee
  • 1 tablespoon cold milk or cream (half and half, light, heavy, or whipping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for depth of flavor
  • 2 tablespoons yellow or white cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
*Frangelico (hazelnut), Amaretto (almond), Grand Marnier (orange), or Framboise (raspberry) are all wonderful, in place of the coffee liqueur.

  1. To make the crust: Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  2. Work the butter into the dry ingredients (using your fingers, a pastry blender or fork, or a mixer) until the dough is unevenly crumbly.
  3. Dissolve the espresso powder in 1 tablespoon of the milk. Sprinkle up to 5 tablespoons (or more, if necessary) of the milk into the dry ingredients (beginning with the tablespoon of espresso milk), continuing to mix until the dough is cohesive. Grab a handful; if it holds together willingly, and doesn't seem at all dry or crumbly, you've added enough liquid.
  4. Shape the dough into a disk. Roll its edges along a floured work surface (as though the disk were a wheel), in order to smooth them out. Pat the disk until it's about 1" thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  5.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow it to warm a bit and become flexible, 15 to 30 minutes
  6. Flour your work surface, and roll the dough into a 12" circle. Transfer the dough to a regular (not deep-dish) 9" pie pan that's at least 1 ¼" deep. Trim and crimp the edges. Place the crust in the refrigerator to chill, while you're preparing the filling.
  7. Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, beating slowly but thoroughly after each addition; you want to combine them with the butter and sugar, but not beat in a lot of air.
  9. Stir in the cocoa, liqueur, milk, and vanilla.
  10. Use a food processor (mini, if you have one) to grind together the espresso powder, cornmeal, and chocolate chips. Add to the batter. Pour the batter into the crust.
  11.  Bake the pie for 45 minutes, adding a crust shield after 20 minutes. The middle may look pretty soft; so long as the temperature has reached 165°F right in the center, the pie is done.
  12. Remove the pie from the oven, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
  13. Serve each slice topped with a layer of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate curls, if desired.

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