There's nothing like a great piece of pie. Nothing except, of course, a day designated for eating said pie. Enter, March 14th (Today! 3.14! Pi day!), and the recipe for the most amazing pie we've ever eaten—fittingly created by one of the most exciting chefs in the U.S., Sean Brock. Here, the founder and chef of Charleston and Nashville's beloved Husk—and star of a memorable episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations featuring a cameo by the one and only Bill Murray—shares the recipe for his coveted chocolate chess pie from his cookbook, Heritage.
"Whenever it graces the menu at Husk, it sells out almost instantly," says Brock. "Chess pie has a pretty diverse history in the South" he explains. "It seems like everyone has a story of its origin and their own way of making it—my version is pretty darn sweet." That's OK with us—but, if sweet isn't your thing, Brock offers a π-fect pro-tip: "add a teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to the filling for a little tang." Ready to celebrate Pi day?
Chocolate Chess Pie
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2½ sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ ounces 67% bittersweet chocolate, preferably Olive and Sinclair
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon Bourbon Barrel Foods Aged Vanilla Extract
10-inch pie pan
For the crust:
1. Chill the bowl, lid, and steel blade of the food processor, along with all of the ingredients for the crust in the freezer for 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
3. Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and process for about 1 minute to combine. Add the butter, and pulse 2 or 3 times, until it is in pieces the size of a pea. Slowly add the water through the feed tube, pulsing 4 or 5 times to incorporate it.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a disk. Start rolling it by lightly pressing it with the rolling pin and rolling from the center out. Do this a few times, then pick up the dough, rotate it a quarter-turn, and roll again. Continue to roll, rotating the dough and flouring the work surface and the dough as needed, until you have a 12-inch circle that is ⅛-inch thick.
5. Loosely fold the dough into quarters and unfold it into the center of a 10-inch pie pan. Gently fit it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You should have an approximately ½-inch overhang around the edges.
Remove the extra dough with a knife and then fold the dough under to create a clean edge around the entire rim. Let the crust rest for 10 minutes to prevent shrinkage.
6. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and fill it with pie weights (or something heavy!). Place the crust on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and remove the weights and foil or parchment. Prick the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork. Return it to the oven and bake it for about 7 minutes, until it is golden and appears dry. Cool completely before filling the pie. Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F.
For the filling:
7. Put the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, insert the top, and set it over low heat; the water should never be hotter than a simmer. Stir the butter and chocolate with a silicone spatula until they melt, scraping down the sides as necessary and being careful not to incorporate air. Remove from the heat.
8. Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate and butter mixture. Pour the filling into the chocolate crust.
9. Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Rotate it front to back and bake for 15 additional minutes, or until the filling is set and no longer jiggles in the center. Let the pie cool to room temperature on a baking rack, then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours before slicing. Serve at room temperature.
10. Tightly covered, the pie will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For more info, check out huskrestaurant.com.