Miss Fats is going to share one of her biggest fears with you: pie. Clearly she has a bit of a bias toward fluffy cake objects and their bready relatives, but this mainly stems from her crippling fear of pastry. The simplicity and precision required to execute even the simplest of pastries requires a restraint and attention that Miss Fats rarely has. She needs a bit more wiggle room. Because she’s lazy. And hates measuring. As a result, she stays away pastry, hiding behind a defensive layer of language that suggests it’s “too fancy” or “fussy” for her taste. This is a load of crap. The reality is that Miss Fats just hasn’t been practicing and fears the perpetual disappointment that it can often create. She hates nothing more than when a carefully labored pie crust, chilled and minimally handled, winds up too chewy or dense. This may be because she believes that in order to be a truly great baker, one should have a grasp on a standard crust. And when it comes down to it, Miss Fats just doesn’t. And thanks to grad school logic: thus she is not a real baker.
Ok enough self-loathing and indulgent nonsense. She knows the only way to really get past this hang up is to approach it like every other pastry novice: practice, practice, practice. So in the spirit of the season, Miss Fats is taking pie on for reals this time.
Her resistance to pie primarily stems from not only this fear of pastry, but the number of flubbubs that can occur with any pie production. Is the fruit too sweet? Too moist? Did I add enough flour this time? Is it going to boil over and make a big sticky mess at the bottom of my oven? Will my crust shrink in the pan? Or will it absorb my filling and turn into a soggy mess? Ugh I cannot roll out pie dough. Why is it so ugly? See: so many anxieties go into a pie. Miss Fats is a such a coward. Get over it.
So in order to ease her way into the pie game, she decided to go for a single crust, non-fruit pie in an attempt to eliminate as many potential problems as possible. Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching and she loves herself some pecans, Miss Fats settled on a classic pecan pie: only naturally, this required the addition of chocolate and salt. Duh. The final pie ended up being a hybrid of Smitten Kitchen’s Foolproof Pie Dough and David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Pecan Pie for the filling.
She ultimately stuck pretty close to the original recipes, particularly with the dough. Miss Fats anxiously measured, pulsed that food processor exactly the right number of times, and carefully added the freezing cold liquids to the batch. Reluctantly to even touch the dough with her hands, she scraped it into the plastic wrap, played a bit of hot potato with the disk and threw it in the fridge. Miss Fats was pleasantly surprised to find that the dough rolled out with ease and didn’t crack or she wasn’t forced to stretch her gummy over-mixed mess like in past pie experiences. Her pie vanity issues were rendered null thanks to her roommate’s beautiful pie pan complete with a wavy mold, that she gently pressed the dough into. For the filling, she omitted the bourbon (only because she didn’t have any on hand), upped the salt content to a full teaspoon, and went with semi sweet chocolate chunks instead of chips. She decided not to pre-bake the crust (out of laziness and lack of baking beans), and simply allowed the filling to fuse with buttery crust. The finishing touch was brushing the crust with a little egg wash and sprinkling it with some raw sugar crystals before baking. Then obviously, after cooling the topping got a heathy sprinkle of sea salt to add those perfect bites to cut the gooey sweetness of the pie filling.
The pie was a freaking miracle. Somehow the damn thing turned out and it looked good. Miss Fats couldn’t have dreamt of a better outcome given her inexperience. The crust’s mixture of butter and shortening gave it both a chewy and flakey texture. It remained crisp on the bottom but managed to soak up some of that caramel-y filling, creating a nice contrast with the decadent insides. Next time Miss Fats makes this pie, however, she’ll be using bittersweet chunks instead of semi-sweet. She actually found it to be just every-so-slightly too sweet for her taste: she’s pretty sure a hit of darker, bitter chocolate is just what this pie needs to send it over the edge. Overall the pie was not perfect, but well beyond expectations and enough to keep Miss Fats’ hopes up and baking until Thanksgiving. She feels restored and ready to take on these scary dessert objects. Just you wait: soon cake pans may be exchanged for rolling pins… though who is she kidding? Probably not. (There’s just more options for peanut butter with cake…though maybe not?)