Friday, March 13, 2015

Chocolate Shoo-Fly Pie for Pi Day 3.14.15

This Saturday is Pi Day! 3/14! And this year it's even more digits: 3/14/15. While there will be throngs of people waiting in line for Pie Shakes at Chili Pies in SF, I thought I'd make something here at home. And it has to be Pie, not a tart or galette!

Shoo-Fly Pie is a Pennsylvania German dish and a must-have at our Thanksgiving dinners when I was growing up. My mom's family is from Lancaster and Lebanon Counties in Pennsylvania, and we grew up eating many of the local dishes. Lebanon bologna, scrapple...yum. But I digress...

This pie is a mix of the classic pie and Marcel Desaulniers' Chocolate Shoo-fly Bites from Celebrate with Chocolate. With or without the chocolate, it's a "sliver pie" - just a sliver will be very satisfying. And maybe another sliver before bed. And maybe another for breakfast...we knew the classic version was a hit with my college roommate's Basque mother when she asked for some more the morning after Thanksgiving. 

1. The Crust: you can use a pre-made crust if you like, but don't get the folded kind. It'll crack and the filling might leak through and burn. I learned lots of cuss words when I was young and my mom tried this. A chocolate cookie crust won't work either. Get a nice all-butter one in a foil pan. 

To make a chocolate crust, you'll need: 

1 c plus 2 Tbsp All-Purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2-4 Tbsp cold water

Put the dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. 

You can mix in a bowl with a whisk if you don't have a food processor. 

Cut the butter into tiny cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse a few times and then hit "on" to blend until it looks like cocoa-y sand like the picture below. 

Use a pastry blender or your fingers if you don't have a food processor. 

Then, add the first two Tbsp of cold water and pulse a few times. Add the third Tablespoon of water, blend a little more, and stop there if the dough comes together into a ball. If it hasn't come together yet, add the last Tbsp a little at a time until it comes together. 

Pat the dough into a round disc, wrap with a towel or some plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes (or overnight). 

My dough was a little wet, so I gently kneaded a little flour into it when I did this step, but it could have turned out tough and overworked. I got lucky. It's probably safer to roll in a little more flour when you roll it out if that happens, but sometimes I throw caution to the wind. Like I tell my ESL students, you learn by making mistakes. 

Bust out the rolling pin, sprinkle a surface with flour, and roll out the dough. Start from the middle of the disc and lift and turn the dough after each couple of rolls. Roll it out to about a 12-14 inch circle. Roll the dough around the pin and unroll it into the pan. Trim the excess, leaving about a 1 inch overhang.
Pinch the excess under to strengthen the edges of the dough and make it an even thickness. You can crimp it in a variety of ways, but the easiest is to use a fork (see the empanada pastry post). I'll post some how-tos for various crimps soon :-) Refrigerate the dough for 30-45 minutes.
2. Make the streusel topping. Put: 

1 c all purpose flour
3/4 cup (tightly packed in the measuring cup) light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut in itty bitty cubes

into the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend one minute on the lowest setting and one minute on the next lowest. It's OK if there are still some visible pieces in the otherwise sandy mix. A hand mixer, a pastry blender or some clean fingers are also fine for this. Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 350. 

3. Make the filling. 

Melt 5 oz semisweet chocolate: I used chocolate chips and the microwave method, but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate and the double-boiler method. Both melting methods are well outlined here at Fine Cooking


When the chocolate gets really smooth, set it aside for a minute (not in the fridge). I got sleepy and dropped the ball on photos for this section, sorry! I'll find an excuse to make another pie soon :-)
  • Pour 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses into a 1/2 cup measure.
  • Add enough corn syrup (Karo) to fill the 1/2 cup measure (a couple of Tbsps). 
  • Crack 2 eggs.
  • Add the molasses, syrup and eggs to a bowl and mix well until a little frothy.
  • Stir in the melted chocolate and 1/3 cup warm milk or hot water mixed with 1 tsp baking soda. I didn't quite mix it well enough this time, but that meant alternating bites of molasses-y goodness and chocolatey yum. 
Filling the pie:

Take the pie shell from the fridge. 

Now, I come from a wet-bottom shoo-fly family, which means that we put the molasses filling on the bottom and the streusel on top. Dry-bottom people put the streusel on the bottom and the molasses on top, which makes for a cakier pie. However, we recently learned that if we sprinkle some of the streusel on the bottom, it helps prevent the crust from leaking as it bakes, and no blind-baking is necessary. 

So, sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the streusel over the pie crust. 

Next, pour in the molasses-chocolate mixture. 

Finally, top with the rest of the streusel. You'll have to sprinkle it around to get it even rather than dumping it all on at once. 

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, until it doesn't jiggle when you take it out. The toothpick test does NOT apply here! Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. 

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