Did you know that in ancient times, chocolate, or cacao, was used only to make a bitter drink, with no sugar or milk added? Cacao was discovered and began being consumed during the Mesoamerica era; the Aztecs and Mayans both used the cacao bean during the sacred rituals of birth, marriage, and death, believing as they did that the cacao bean had magical properties. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means "food of the gods." My sentiments exactly!
Later discoveries gave us cocoa, chocolate bars, and chocolate candies. Today, there is a resurgence of the consumption of plain cacao beans, or chocolate nibs, with various touted health benefits. Myself, I prefer the sweetened stuff.
I’m often seeking great ways to infuse my foods with chocolate, as this recipe demonstrates. Chocolate is great in savory foods, too. Stay tuned for more recipes.
Pecan pie has long been a holiday favorite in my family. My mother always made a “Northern pecan pie,” using maple syrup instead of corn syrup. Mmmm.
Then once I was served chocolate pecan pie at someone’s house, and discovered an even better treat! This is my version of one of the most luxurious pies I’ve ever eaten. Let me know if you agree!
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 recipe of your favorite pie dough
½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1/3 cup (5-1/3 Tbsp.) butter
1 cup maple syrup
1 3.5 or 4 oz. bar bittersweet chocolate
1 cup pecan halves
1 tsp. vanilla
Optional: whipped cream and chocolate shavings for garnish
1) Roll out the pie dough, put it into a 9" pie pan, prick all over with a fork, and bake at 425º F until golden, about 12 minutes. Cool. Lower the oven heat to 375º F.
2) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching. Set aside to cool slightly.
2) In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and maple syrup until well blended. Stir in the chocolate mixture until incorporated.
3) Stir in the pecans. Pour mixture into the pre-baked crust, and bake at 375º F for 40–50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream and shavings of chocolate on top, and a cup of hot chocolate to sip. You and your guests will weep for more!
Note: The filling will puff up slightly above the crust when it’s done.