Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chocolate Cherry Crunch Pie

This recipe was universally loved by my team of testers (aka, my extended family). Even I loved it, and I am generally not much for pies. They're a lot of work for something that doesn't move my soul the way cakes do.

But I had this recipe from Bon Appetit kicking around for ages, and it did look pretty fabulous. Plus, I bought a jar of morello cherries from Trader Joe's, stuck it in the back of the cabinet, and forgot about it. Three times. Like you do...

In the event, however, I managed to ignore just about everything from the Bon Appetit recipe. One day I'll make it as written, minus the orange juice and zest, substituting pecans for almonds, and ... Okay, who am I kidding? The only recipe I've ever followed is my own. So, here it is.

Chocolate Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour (140g)
2/3 cup powdered sugar (80g)
3 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder (20g)
pinch of table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (90g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg yolks

Crunch Topping
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup light brown sugar
pinch of table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Cherry Filling
3-700g jars of sour cherries in syrup, drained
(or, 3 12oz bags of frozen sour cherries, plus an extra 1/4 cup sugar)
1/2 cup sugar (110g)
1/4 cup bourbon (45g)
3 tablespoons cornstarch (25g)

For the crust:
In food processor, process flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and butter for 20 seconds. Add vanilla and yolks, and turn the machine back on. (Stop thinking about all those recipes that urged you to handle pie crust gently. They are not the boss of you.) Leave the machine running for at least a minute, listening for the sound to change from whining to thumping. (Yes, I'm serious!) When it starts to come together in clumps, gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Roll out onto a piece of wax paper and fit to a 9" pie plate. Prick the bottom of the pie several time with a fork, and place in the freezer for an hour. Spray a piece of tinfoil with oil and fit it snugly into the pie crust. Make sure to push it into the corners and up the sides to prevent shrinking. Bake for 20 minutes at 350, while you get on with the topping and filling. Remove the foil before putting in the cherry filling. (Duh.)

For the topping:
(I wear a glove for this part, because I am a whiny baby.) Knead and squeeze the mixture together so that the heat of your hand helps it meld into clumps, working in the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up, then break up into 1/2" clumps on top of filled piecrust.

Filling and baking:
Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently so as not to mush the cherries, then pour them into the prepared crust. Crumble the cold topping over the cherries, covering the whole pie with half-inch chunks, dumping the remaining crumbs into any gaps. Place on a cookie sheet in case of drips and bake for 70 to 90 minutes, until the filling starts to set. Cool for at least an hour and serve at room temperature, garnished with whipped cream. Serves 10-12.

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