The Fearless Baker’s Brownie Pie
Sometimes the question is…. what can’t I put in a pie crust. Prompted by Erin McDowell’s new book The Fearless Baker (GET IT!) the answer is definitely not brownie batter because BROWNIE BATTER IN PIE CRUST suddenly makes all the sense in the world.
Two desserts into one buttery-gooey dessert that we’ll top with ice cream because this life is for living, ya feel me?
We’ll start with pie crust – where most fine things start this time of year.
I’m no stranger to pie crust, and usually use a cold buttermilk in my crust. Erin’s crust uses cold water for more of a crispy crust. Butter is worked into flour and salt until the mixture is mealy and the butter is about the size of peas.
Now we’ll add the cold water. Three tablespoons to start. Maybe a tablespoon more if your mixture is feeling dry.
Ice cold in important because keeping the butter cold is important. Cold butter makes for a flakey crust… amen.
The mixture will be moist and a shaggy version of cohesive – but not wet and sticky.
This takes practice and feel and really there’s no time like the present, ya know?
The dough is shaped into a disk and left to rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before it’s rolled out.
Can we talk about brownie batter now because BROWNIE BATTER! (It’s one of life’s great joys.)
We’ll start by melting chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water. We’ll add oil and butter to help the chocolate melt to smooth.
We’re doing really well! That was a light mid-recipe pep talk.
Whisk the sugars into the melted chocolate mixture. The mixture may seem a bit grainy but it’s all part of the process. Don’t fret.
Eggs (three of them) will help the sugar to dissolve and smooth out the batter. It’s as close to magic as it gets.
To our glossy chocolate mixture we’ll add flour and salt. Whisk to thicken.
And say yes to extra chocolate chips and chopped toasted almonds.
Remember the pie crust? It’s back in the game! Rolled out, crimped and ready for a quick bake in the oven before the brownie batter goes in.
To par-bake a crust you’ll need a sheet of parchment paper and some weights to hold the crust down. I always use dried beans.
Bake the crust, with the paper and weights until it’s juuuust golden brown. Remove the paper and the beans and bake for just a few minutes more.
Right when the crust comes out of the oven, brush it very lightly with beaten egg. The egg will cook and absorb into the crust, keeping it crisp during its second bake.
Baking is part knowledge and part wizardry.
Brownie batter, please say hello to pie crust.
Baked to golden brown, puffed, and juuust cooked through. It’s important not to overbake this buddy. If testing with a toothpick, you might just come out with a few loose crumbs. That’s right!
Give the pie a cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. I love this pie just warmer than room temperature served with ice cream piled high. Coffee ice cream is clutch, though really you couldn’t go wrong if you tried.
Brownie Pie! It’s an unexpected and absolutely joyful dessert. Feel good moves.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1/4 canola (or other neutral) oil
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% or so), chopped
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup chopped toasted almonds
- coffee ice cream or whipped cream for serving
- To make the dough, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter cubes, tossing them through the flour until each piece is well coated. Cut the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your palms or your fingers, flattening the cubes into big shards and continuing to toss them through the flour, recoating the shingled pieces.
- Continue to work the mixture together until the pieces of butter are about the size of peas.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and mix to incorporate. Then add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and continue mixing just until the dough comes together. As it begins to come together, you can knead it a few times to make sure it's evenly combined. It's important not to add too much water to the dough, which should never be sticky. It should hold together easily in a ball but still feel almost dry to the touch.
- Form the dough into an even disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
- Lightly flour the work surface. Roll out the dough to a circle 1/4-inch thick. Start in the center of the disk of dough and push away from you using even pressure. Return to the center and repeat, this time moving towards you. Continue rotating the dough and reflouring the counter as needed to prevent sticking.
- Transfer the dough to the pie pan. Trim away the overhang, leaving about 1/2-inch overhang all around. Tuck the excess dough under and crimp with your fingers or a fork. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes or freeze for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To parbake, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the pie pan.
- Prick the chilled dough all over with a fork. Place the parchment over the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust until the edges barely begin to turn golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the oven and remove the parchment and weights. Return the crust to the oven to bake for 2 to 4 minutes until just lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and immediately brush the bottom of the crust with a thin layer of egg wash. The residual heat should cook the egg, but if it looks wet, throw it back in the oven for 1 minute more. Cool the crust completely before filling it.
- To make the brownie, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium, heat-proof bowl, combine the butter, oil, and bittersweet chocolate. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water (with the bowl not touching the water) and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully melted and combined. Let cool slightly.
- Add both sugars to the chocolate mixture and mix well with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and mix well to ensure there are no flour pockets, but do not overmix. Fold in the semisweet chocolate and almonds.
- Pour the batter into the piecrust and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownie comes out with moist, clumpy crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes. Do not overbake! Let the pie cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. I love this pie served with coffee ice cream.