“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” – Salvador Dalí
At the beginning of the year, I made a list of things I wanted to prioritise for 2015. I didn’t hold them as a set of resolutions that demand strict adherence or completion; rather I just wanted a set of goals to work towards which can guide along my year. Among those on the list, was a strong desire to learn how to bake a good pie.
Though I adore it, I have only ever made a pie once or twice in my life. I remember my first pie bite vividly. I was young – seven or eight, sitting in a cosy coffee shop with my mother, sharing a thick slice of rich chocolate pie as an after school winter reward. It seems like such an insignificant and distant recollection now, warm remnants of childhood past, but the memory has nevertheless stayed with me. And despite that chocolate pie shared being rather ordinary, that pie…has stayed with me too.
As I wanted to learn how to bake a good pie, I decided to channel that original chocolate pie memory… nostalgia can be a very good teacher, especially in the kitchen. So, last weekend I made plans to stay indoors and bake. The weather outside was perfectly autumnal – crisp and fresh, so spending time comforted by the surrounds of a warm oven was blissful and domesticated heaven.
I used the technique for a basic all-butter crust and slightly changed a chocolate mint pie recipe from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book – the authoritative pie baking bible. And it turned out incredible. I loved this pie and the process of making it so much… that I made three pies later on in the week. And in the next couple of days, I have plans for yet another pie too… I don’t think it’s even possible to be all pied out.
Inspired by the upcoming Kentucky Derby, this Dark Chocolate Mint Julep Pie combines the classic cocktail and humble pie and evolves it into something so much more. Made rich with bittersweet dark chocolate and flavoured by refreshing peppermint and warming bourbon, this pie is a flavour revelation. A slice is pure decadence… and is as deep, dark chocolat-y and wicked as you can imagine. And the texture is pure velvet too. It will melt in your mouth.
I served it dusted with a good quality dutch processed cocoa powder and garnished it with crystallized mint leaves. It doesn’t need anything else like whipped cream or even a chocolate sauce. Just keeping it simple is delicious enough.
I shared this pie with friends and it was such a big hit. The pie was entirely demolished within a few hours. I was so disappointed that it vanished before I managed a second slice (and you will be wishing for seconds)… that, I made it again. And it went just as quick and tasted just as delicious as the original.
Whether you are looking to embrace the upcoming Kentucky Derby celebration, or simply searching for a rich, decadent and delicious treat to devour by-yourself or with loved ones, this Dark Chocolate Mint Julep Pie will be suited just for you.
- 1 ¼ cups plain flour
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp. caster (granulated) sugar
- 1 stick / 115 g butter, diced
- ½ cup cold water
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup ice
- 1 egg white + 1 tsp. water, whisked together for the egg wash
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy (thickened) cream
- 12 oz. / 340 g dark chocolate (70%), chopped into pieces
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. peppermint extract
- 2 tbsp. bourbon
- Dutch processed cocoa powder and crystallized mint leaves, for garnishing
- Lightly butter a 9 inch / 22 cm pie dish and set it aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Add in the diced butter and coat it with the flour. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender, dough scraper or spatula until mostly pea-sized pieces of butter remain.
- In a small bowl, combine the water, apple cider vinegar and ice. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix it in until fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tbsp. at a time as needed, and combine the dough, bringing it together into a ball using your blender or hands. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator 5 to 10 minutes before you began rolling it out. Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Place the dough in the center of the floured surface and roll it away from you in one even stroke. Spin the dough a quarter of the way around and roll it out again. Continue to spin and roll out the dough until it is 2 inches / 5 cm larger than the pan you are using and about ⅛ inch / .3 cm in thickness.
- Fit the dough into your prepared pan, trim the overhanging excess then crimp the edges. Cover with aluminium foil and chill for at least 1 hour, and then freeze until solid – about 10 minutes.
- Once solid, fit the pie with weights or beans and bake in a 425 F / 220 C pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, or until the edges are set but not browned. Once set, lift out the weights, and let the pie cool slightly before lightly brushing the sides and base with the egg wash. Set back in the oven for 3 more minutes, before removing and allowing the pie to cool before filling it.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 325 F / 160 C. In a large saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a light boil. Place the chocolate pieces in a large bowl, then pour the hot cream over the top. Let stand for 5 minutes, before adding in the salt and whisking to combine.
- Whisk the eggs in a separate small bowl. Slowly stream in a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the eggs, whisking as you pour to acclimatize the eggs to the warmth. Whisk this egg mixture back into the chocolate mixture. Add in the peppermint extract and bourbon then whisk until smooth and combined. Strain this chocolate mixture through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The pie is finished when the edges are puffed in slightly and the center is no longer liquid, but still slightly wobbly. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack for 2 to 3 hours, before garnishing with cocoa powder, mint leaves and serving.