The only thing that could possibly make pecan pie better is chocolate. It’s like a cross between a gooey brownie and a gooey pecan pie baked on top of a beautiful buttery, flakey pie crust. She’s best topped with ice cream and even a drizzle of hot fudge or salted caramel if you’re feeling fancy.
Why you’ll love this chocolate pecan pie
- Everything is homemade but quite simple and can be made ahead of time.
- The filling is like a cross between a gooey brownie and gooey pecan pie. I recommend serving slightly warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the MOST INDULGENT pie.
- I never thought of chocolate as a “fall” flavor but this pie is great for all my non-fruit pie loving friends.
- It’s the PERFECT make ahead dessert for thanksgiving because it needs a good chill time anyway!
What is Chocolate Pecan Pie?
Pecan pie is a traditional American Thanksgiving dessert with a southern origin. A buttery, flakey pie crust gets filled with a sweet pecan filling and baked until it’s nice and crispy on the edges and gooey in the center…chocolate pecan pie is a chocolate version of that lol.
I’ve seen some people just add in some chocolate chips for the chocolate factor but I really wanted this to be like a gooey, melty, super indulgent chocolate pie with pecans. It’s giving lava cake.
For extra indulgence, it can be topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and some homemade salted caramel sauce or even hot fudge.
I used a traditional pie crust that I par-baked. If you’re new to making pie crust, make sure to read my whole post on all butter pie crusts. There are also videos, so it will be super helpful.
Ingredients & Substitutions:
- Flour: I just use all purpose flour for the crust. There is such a thing as pastry flour and I know some people like cake flour for pie crusts too but all-purpose works perfectly fine here.
- I also HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is almost always over measured.
- Butter: I love using salted butter in almost everything, except buttercream, but unsalted works fine too, I would just add an extra pinch of salt.
- Water: you’ll want ice cold water. I measure my water first, pop it in the freezer while I get the rest of my ingredients ready and then bring it out when I need it (make sure it doesn’t actually freeze though lol).
- Alcohol: Never have I ever had a flakier crust than when I added 1-2 Tbsp of alcohol. Because alcohol inhibits the development of gluten, it allows you to add a little more liquid without risking a tougher pastry. My best results were with whiskey, but any type of spirit will work fine and won’t impart any flavor unless you use more.
- This is totally optional and not necessary but definitely recommended.
- Sugar: I use brown sugar for the filling. You can do light or dark, it doesn’t matter, even granulated sugar will work fine.
- Eggs: I use large room temperature eggs for the filling. I recommend placing them in hot water for a few minutes if they’re cold.
- Cocoa Powder: I love using dutch-processed cocoa powder but any unsweetened cocoa will work.
- Chocolate Chips: I recommend using chocolate chips as they’ll help the pie set better due to the stabilizers found in chocolate chips. I love dark chocolate but it does make this pie very rich and not super sweet so if you’re a milk chocolate fanatic, have at it!
- Vanilla: vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste will work fine.
- Salt: I like fine sea salt.
How to make Chocolate Pecan Pie
The Pie Crust
Step 1: Cube cold butter and then place it back in the fridge, measure out flour and place it in the fridge or freezer, measure out water and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Place flour in a food processor and place the cubed butter on top. Pulse for a few seconds until the butter and flour look like small crumbles.
Step 3: Drizzle in half the water and alcohol and pulse, then drizzle in a little more at a time just until the dough starts to look more wet. The dough will still be crumbly but when you press on it, it should stick together.
Step 4: Dump the mixture onto the countertop and use your hands to press it all together and fold it over itself a couple of times so it all sticks together nicely. You should see bits of butter in the dough and it should be fully hydrated (so no dry flour spots) but not too sticky to handle.
Step 5: Form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Then roll it out and place it into a pie dish. Fill the pie with pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pie weights and allow to cool completely before filling.
Step 1: Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla until they’re well combined.
Step 2: Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds, until they’re completely smooth.
Step 3: Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips and toss them around until they’re evenly coated with the chocolate mixture.
Step 4: Pour the filling over the par-baked crust and bake until the edges of the filling are puffed and set and the center still has a jiggle but is no longer wet.
When the pie gets baked, keep an eye on the color of the edge of the crust. If it begins to brown before the filling looks set, remove it from the oven, cover the edge of the pie with foil and then continue baking.
Tips for getting the pie crust just right
- Temperature matters: to create a flaky crust, you want the butter to be cold so it doesn’t melt into the dough. To keep the butter as cold as possible I like to put my flour and sugar in the food processor bowl and then freeze the whole bowl while I cube my butter.
- Add the butter to the bowl and freeze for 5-10 more minutes.
- For ice water, I just put 1-2 ice cubes in the cup and then measure the water or measure the water and freeze it for a few minutes, as well.
- Temperature matters again: Refrigerate the pie dough for 1-2 hours after you’ve made it. This will allow the gluten to relax a little and keep the butter cold. Once it feels a little more firm, about an hour or so, you can roll it out. I roll out half at a time (so the bottom crust first and then the top crust) so the other half doesn’ t get too warm.
- If you’re making designs with the top crust and it starts to feel sticky/soft, just refrigerate it again for a few minutes.
- Temperature matters one more time: You want the pie crust to hold its shape while it’s baking. If you bake room temperature pie dough, the butter will melt right out and the crust will shrivel up.
- What you want to do is, once the pie is all done, pop it in the fridge or the freezer for about half an hour before baking. You want the crust to be firm and cold before baking so that it holds its shape.
- Temperature matters one last time: Depending on what you’re filling your pie with, the temperature of the oven matters. You always want to bake your pie crust at 350F (177C) or higher, if the oven is not hot enough, the butter will just leak out and the crust will shrivel up.
- I blind bake/par-bake my crust at 400F-425F (204-218C) and it sets beautifully without any major shriveling.
How to roll out pie dough
When I refrigerate my pie dough for 1-2 hours, it is firm but it’s still malleable and able to be rolled out. If your pie dough feels rock solid, let it rest on the counter for a few minutes until it’s able to be rolled out without cracking.
The dough should not be super sticky so just lightly flour the countertop and the top of the dough. Place the rolling pin in the center of the pie disc and roll out almost to the edge of the pie but don’t go past the edge. Then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat until it’s about ⅛ inch thick and large enough to fully cover your pie dish.
You can either roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll it over the pie dish or I like to gently fold the dough in half and then fold it in half again and then unfold it over the pie dish.
How to par-bake pie crust
Par-baking means to bake the crust about 80% before adding a filling and then it gets baked again after the filling is added. This method of baking pie crust is good for pies with a very wet filling that need to be baked.
To par-bake the crust:
- Roll out your dough onto a well floured surface. Fold or roll the dough up and place it over the pie dish. Press it down on the bottom and adjust the sides as needed. Do whatever design you desire along the edge of the crust and then refrigerate or freeze for at least 30 minutes, until the pie feels firm.
- During this time preheat the oven 425F (212C) – can do less too if desired but don’t go below 350 (177C). Once the dough is firm, place a sheet of parchment paper (I like to crumple mine so that it fits more accurately) on top of the dough and fill it with pie weights. If you don’t have pie weights, use uncooked rice, dried beans or even flour. Place the pie dish on top of a cookie sheet (just in case there’s any butter spillage – I use a metal pan) and bake for 20 minutes (a little longer if oven temp is reduced a little), until it starts to get some color.
- Remove the pie crust from the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper with the weights from the pie crust. Allow the crust to cool completely (or at least most of the way) before proceeding with the recipe.
NOTE: I don’t ever use convection for baking pies because the last thing to finish baking is the bottom so you definitely want the heat coming straight from the bottom of the oven and not circulating to the top.
What type of pan is best for pies
I prefer to bake pies made with pastry in a metal pan. Metal pans conduct heat the quickest and most efficiently. Your crust will most likely have the best bake using a metal pan.
That said, I don’t always bake my pies in metal pans because my metal pan is quite shallow and I don’t have a deep dish metal pan so I use my ceramic ones for things like deep dish apple pie and it works fine with a few insurances.
I always make sure to bake on conventional (no fan) and not convection and I like to place it on the bottom rack so that the bottom pie crust gets direct heat. I also always place my pie dish on a metal baking sheet to catch any drippings.
I haven’t tried it but some people recommend using a baking stone underneath the pie dish to bring more heat to the bottom of the pie.
And if I’m baking a more hefty, wet pie like traditional apple pie, I usually sprinkle some sort of starch, like flour or cornstarch on top of the bottom pie crust to help absorb more of the filling juices.
For this chocolate pecan pie, you want an average sized pan – not super shallow but not a deep dish. In the photo below, you can see my pan was quite deep so I just didn’t bring the pie crust all the way to the top of the pan like I did the first time in the photos above (step-by-step section). So I recommend doing the same if your dish is deep.
Frequently Asked Questions
It just needs a little more hydration, add another 1-2 Tbsp of water at a time until it forms a dough.
Your pie crust can crack when you go to roll it out if it’s not fully hydrated (see above) or if it’s too cold when you’re rolling it out. Just leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling.
The pie dough can leak butter if it wasn’t fully chilled or if the chunks of butter are too large in the crust. When you blend the flour with the butter, you want pea size chunks or smaller.
The pie will shrivel up and shrink when it’s baking if it wasn’t fully chilled before baking. You want the pie crust to be cold so the butter is firm when it goes into the oven.
The dough was overworked. You want to handle it as minimally as possible, once it comes together, let it be, refrigerate it and when you roll it out, use it. Don’t re-roll it out.
If the filling doesn’t set up properly it can be because it didn’t bake long enough or it didn’t cool long enough. You’ll need to let the pie cool completely in order for the filling to set. I like to make my pie ahead of time and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
Then if you want to serve it warm just microwave individual slices.
How to store chocolate pecan pie and make ahead of time
There’s a few ways to make your pie ahead of time
- Prep your pie dough ahead of time. You can freeze the dough before baking or even after par-baking.
- You can par-bake the crust a day in advance and just leave it at room temperature.
- You can bake the whole pie, let it cool to room temperature and then wrap the whole pie up tightly and refrigerate for a few days or freeze it for a few weeks/months.
- Slice the cooled pie and wrap each individual piece in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze for a few weeks/months.
Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.
If this chocolate pecan pie makes it to your thanksgiving table, I would love it if you left me a review!
As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!
Chocolate Pecan Pie
- 1 Tbsp whiskey (bourbon, vodka, any spirit works)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter cold
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1/2 cup (113g) salted butter browned to 93 grams and cooled
- 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder spooned and leveled (I use dutch)
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
- 2 cups (250g) roughly chopped pecans
- 1 cup (6oz) dark chocolate chips
- pinch of sea salt flakes for topping
- vanilla ice cream for topping
- salted caramel sauce or hot fudge for topping
- Place the alcohol in a measuring cup and add the cold water. Place it in the freezer while you prepare the other ingredients.1 Tbsp whiskey, 1/4 cup cold water
- Place the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Place the whole bowl in the freezer while you cube the butter.1 1/4 cup (150g) all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- Add the cubed butter to the flour in the freezer, for 5-10 minutes.1/2 cup (113g) salted butter
- Remove the the bowl from the freezer, place it on the food processor and pulse until pea seize chunks form.
- While the food processor is on, stream in the water mixture just until it starts to come together. Start with only 2 Tbsp of water and use up to 1/4 cup if needed, I usually do 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp of alcohol. You want the dough to be kinda crumbly but stick together when you press on it.
- Remove the dough from the food processor, press it together so it all sticks together. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour (or overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 425F (218C) conventional (no fan).
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on the chilled pie dough and fill it in with pie weights (or rice) to keep the sheet in place.
- Bake the pie crust on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes, until it starts to get some color.
- Remove from the oven and remove the pie weights and parchment sheets. Allow the crust to cool completely (if it's hot when you pour the filling, you may have a soggy bottom).
- Preheat the oven to 350F (177C) and beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork. Use a pastry brush to brush the egg onto the cooled pie crust and set aside.1 egg
- In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla until they're completely smooth.1/2 cup (113g) salted butter, 1 cup (200g) light brown sugar, 1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is fully combined, about 30 seconds.4 large eggs
- Add the pecans and chocolate chips and toss until they're fully coated.2 cups (250g) roughly chopped pecans, 1 cup (6oz) dark chocolate chips
- Pour the filling over the cooled par-baked pie crust and bake the pie for about 40-45 minutes.
- If the edges of the pie crust are browning too quickly, remove the pie from the oven again and cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent them from burning. Return the pie to the oven until the filling no longer looks liquid-y. It should be puffed around the edges and have a slight wobble in the center when you jiggle it (you may need to remove the foil to check on the filling).
- Remove the pie from the oven, sprinkle some sea salt flakes on top and allow it to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for a couple of hours to fully set. It's easier to slice after chilling but I prefer to warm up a slice and top with vanilla ice cream.pinch of sea salt flakes for topping, vanilla ice cream for topping