Chocolate Pecan Pie

Peanut-free chocolate pecan pie sounds like a crazy idea, but it isn’t.    There are now peanut-free nuts on the market that put this Thanksgiving classic within reasonable reach.

For the uninitiated, peanuts are not actually nuts.  They are legumes.  There are many of us who are allergic to peanuts but not tree-nuts, although not everybody is that lucky and cross-allergies are pretty common.  But for those of us who are specifically and only allergic to peanuts, peanut-free chocolate pecan pie can be achieved.

Peanut-free nuts are a “thing”.  Really.

I used to have to start weeks in advance and buy pounds of bulk nuts in the shell. I’d sit there in front of the TV and shell the nuts, then freeze them in big ziplock bags for the rest of the year. If I am shelling them myself, then I know that there is no cross-contamination in the handling.

Now I can find two brands of tree-nuts, Royal and Phidalia.  Only Royal seems to carry pecans, but both routinely carry walnuts.  Honestly, I’ve swapped out walnuts for the pecans in this pie and nobody has noticed the substitution.

The other key ingredient is the chocolate.  I’ve switched to using Guittard chocolate, which is made in a peanut free facility.  And with those two problems solved, you can just focus on making the pie.

Tailoring the Recipe

I started with the pecan pie recipe in “The Dessert Bible” by Christopher Kimball, but as always, I’ve monkeyed with it to suit our tastes.  I crossed that recipe with the chocolate pecan pie from a 1995 edition of Cook’s Illustrated.  I don’t even have the magazine any more, just marginal notes in the book about what I did.  Then I cut the sugar down a tad; skipped the cream and the booze entirely;  swapped in some unsweetened chocolate to bring the sweetness down more; and increased the nuts and the eggs to reflect the fact that I’m using a 10″ crust instead of the 9″ crust in the recipe.

Pie Crusts – Make or Buy?

I always make a homemade pie crust because they taste better, but I don’t deny that the crust is the hard part that takes time and a bit of skill.

Internet statistics show that most people google holiday recipes in a big panic on the day of the holiday.  I’m betting if you just found this recipe on Google it is 4 pm on Thanksgiving Thursday and you don’t have time to make a crust.  If you want to make this quickly and easily, go ahead and use a frozen pie crust.  The filling is actually fast and easy.

If you do have the time and interest to make the crust, try my go-to pie crust recipe.  The recipe is for a double crust, and this recipe only has a crust on the bottom but no lattice work or design on top.  You could just discard the rest or use the extra to cut Thanksgiving themed designs like leaves out of the extra crust intended for the top and put them on top.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is my peanut-free version of the Thanksgiving classic.  They won’t let me in the door at Thanksgiving dinner unless I have one of these with me.

  • 1 10" pie crust
  • 2 cups pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread pecans on baking sheet and toast them for 7 minutes.  Remove nuts from oven, and raise oven heat to 425 degrees

  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until blended.  Whisk in the corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla and melted butter. 

  3. Chop the chocolate into big chunks.  Sprinkle on the bottom of the crust.  Sprinkle the nuts on top of the chocolate.  Pour the egg mixture on top of the nuts and chocolate.

  4. Bake for 10 minutes.  Then reduce the oven heat back to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes, or until a knife blade inserted into the center comes out clean, but the center still feels jiggly.  Cool to room temperature to serve.

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