July 7, 2010. Dave was turning 24 and our 2nd floor Kingston apartment was a sweltering mess than even our strategically-placed fans could do nothing about. I was all “I love you buddy but there is no way in hell I am turning on the oven right now,” so I made two epic chilled desserts as a birthday cake substitute: blackberry fool & drunken grapes. They were delicious, but probably disappointing to Dave since they were both cream-based and he’d recently stopped eating dairy. (Silver lining to some girlfriend fails: more for me!)
July 7, 2012. Turns out Toronto does heat wave even better than Kingston. This year, however, we have an air-conditioned apartment, and by now I have a better dairy-free repertoire. Since I’m still not very interested in icing cakes, I baked Dave a mocha pecan pie. (The bits of butter mean it’s low-dairy and not no-dairy, but you could swap for margarine in the filling & shortening in the crust and be good to go.)
I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make this pie. First off, it tastes like special-occasion food – thanks, toasted pecans – and coffee & chocolate have been too long kept apart in my day-to-day life. Most important, especially if you’re hosting friends for birthday drinks later that day, it’s quick to come together: it’s an unmessy crust, and the blender does the bulk of the work. And to those of you who say pies can’t be for birthdays because how can you decorate them, do not fear. When this pie comes out of the oven, take a handful of chocolate chips and decorate it however you please. The heat of the pie will melt them and set your birthday message for all eternity (or until sliced & eaten; this pie won’t last for long).
Mocha Pecan Pie
1/3 cup butter
1 cup flour
2-4 tbsp ice water
3/4 cup sugar
1-2 cup maple syrup of dark corn syrup
2 tbsp coffee liqueur or brewed coffee
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted pecans
1. Make the crust: In a large bowl, use two knives to cut the butter into the flour until there are no pieces of butter left larger than a pea. One tablespoon at a time, add just enough ice water to get the dough to cling together. Shape it into a ball, and place it on a lightly floured surface to roll out. Carefully transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate (or what you have).
2. Make the filling: Place pecans in a medium bowl and set aside. Place all remaining ingredients into a blender; blend until smooth. Pour this mixture over the pecans, and stir to coat.
3. Construct & bake the pie: Pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust, and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the temperature to 350, and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.