November 13, 2020

Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Pie

 Part pecan pie, part brownie and most similar to chocolate chess pie: an all-butter pie crust, brown butter gooey chocolatey

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 Part pecan pie, part brownie and most similar to chocolate chess pie: an all-butter pie crust, brown butter gooey chocolatey bottom studded with crunchy pecans and dark chocolate. 

 

     

 

Chocolate Brownie Pecan Pie: Recipe Overview

Let’s talk layers: a flaky, all butter pie crust, a chocolatey, nutty brownie-like filling that tastes like chocolate and brown butter (NOT an easy feat!) and finally, a storm of chocolate marshmallow, in a soft fluffy meringue form. THIS is the only pie you want for the holidays. 

I based my recipe off of this wildly popular salted caramel chocolate pecan pie but made some major changes. I made my own crust, I may be crap at shaping pie crust (see pics!) but nothing beats a homemade pie crust. I par-bake it so that the bottom becomes crispy, rather than doughy. I browned the butter to get that deliciously nutty taste into the filling and it paid off in mounds. You cannot always taste the brown butter in very chocolatey desserts because the chocolate overpowers, but you absolutely can in this – it lingers after the chocolate hits your tongue and it’ll make you come back for more, and more.

 

Blind Baking an All-Butter Pie Crust: Some Tips

I believe there’s an older tradition of using shortening in crust but I’ve always done all butter. My favorite pie crust recipe comes from Ovenly, it’s a simple, direct dough that leads to very flaky tasty pie. You’ll only need: flour, butter and salt. 

In my trials, it quickly became clear I had forgotten all my crust shaping skills (I only use them around the holidays!). I picked up a few tips while recipe testing this and hopefully they will help you when you make yours: 

  • As cold as possible: a dough that is made with very cold butter and ice water will lead to a flakier crust. 
  • Use a glass or aluminum pie pan – ceramic pans conduct heat less evenly and take longer to heat up. See this article from seriouseats with more info. 
  • Once the dough is shaped into your pie pan, freeze it for at least a few hours or overnight. This will help it keep shape during the blind baking. 
  • To blind bake the crust, cover the entire crust with foil and fill the pan with pie weights, or dried beans. 
  • Before you add the filling, brush the crust with egg wash to create a barrier layer between the crust and filling to avoid a soggy bottom (heh). 

While my crust is blind baking (or par-baking), I make the filling and spoon it in as soon as soon as the crust is ready, then return it to the oven. 

 

 

Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Pie Filling 

This is really the star of this show, there is SO much flavor in the filling. It’s a lot like a brownie, but it’s gooier even after the bake and the taste is more varied: the brown butter, the flaky sea salt, the caramel notes from brown sugar… all of it comes through in every single bite. 

This pie is supposed to be gooey! If you cut it when warm, the filling will spill out like a warm chocolate molten cake. When it sets, it retains it’s soft texture and is a lot like fudge. No good pie holds perfect shape, you can quote me on that. 

If you like, you can stop here and you’ll have a gorgeous, absolutely delicious pie. If it’s a holiday, I like to go a little over the top for my dessert table and so I’m giving you the option of a fluffy meringue which works so well here. Since the pie is dark and rich, made with bittersweet chocolate and since we’ve left out a lot of the usual culprits that make pecan pie cloying and tooth-aching sweet, a gentle topping really rounds the whole pie out in both flavor and texture. Also, you get to torch it (!) and somehow now we kind of have a double chocolate s’mores pie!!! 

 

 

Chocolate meringue pie topping

This is an Italian style meringue: the sugar is combined with water, cooked until the ‘candy’ point and then slowly poured into the egg whites as they are whipping.

The meringue needs to whip for a while, you want a white, glossy fluff that holds shape when the whisk is turned upside down.

We’ll add the cocoa at the very end, and fold it in with a spatula – this is to avoid breaking the meringue we’ve just whipped to perfection. Sift the cocoa over the meringue so that you don’t deflate it and then carefully fold to incorporate. There might be little specks of cocoa which resist the folds but those will disappear into the meringue after awhile so don’t fuss to get a perfectly smooth meringue.

The result? A FLOOFY chocolatey pie topping. It’s kind of like a giant gently sweetened marshmallow and because of it our pie is half a s’mores pie and half chocolate pecan and all the better for it!

 

Chocolate pecan pie topping options

Pecan Caramel: Arrange a thick layer of pecans over the pie after it has baked. Make this apple cider caramel and pour the caramel over the pecans. The caramel holds the pecans in place. You do this ahead of time and store it in the fridge.

Whipped Cream: I’d make this right before I planned to serve the pie or minimum a few hours before (stored in the fridge). With a hand mixer, whip 1 cup heavy cream with 1-2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to soft peaks.

Ice cream: A good vanilla ice cream would taste great here. Something that’s not overly sweet and won’t get in the way of tasting the pie filling.

Recipe for Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Pie 

Note: the pie crust recipe makes more than you’ll need for this pie. Half of it will be used for the bottom of the crust, 1/4 can be used to shape the edges in an attractive way. You’ll likely have 1/4 of the dough left for another use. 

Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Pie

Part pecan pie, part brownies and most similar to chocolate chess pie: an all-butter pie crust, has a brown butter gooey chocolatey bottom and is topped with a fluffy chocolate marshmallow like meringue. 
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 hr
4.91 from 10 votes

Ingredients

Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Filling

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup cocoa, dutch process or natural
  • cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans chopped, plus more to decorate top
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate

Chocolate Marshmallow Meringue Topping (optional)

  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons natural cocoa

Method

  • To par bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 F. Cover the pie crust with foil and add pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • To brown the butter: while the crust is par-baking, brown the butter by adding the butter to a saucepan and cooking until it first melts, then bubbles and spits, then goes quiet and you see brown bits at the bottom. Remove from heat as soon as it is done by pouring it into a heat-proof container.
  • To make the filling: whisk together the brown butter and sugar swiftly for 30 seconds, you want the mixture to cool down and for the sugar to begin to melt into the butter. Add the salt and vanilla and whisk. Add the eggs and whisk for a full minute to allow the ingredients to emulsify. Add the cocoa, flour, pecans and chopped chocolate and stir to combine. Pour the filling into the half-baked pie shell, lower the oven temperature to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes.
  • To make the meringue topping: Set egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a pot, combine the water and sugar and attach a candy thermometer. Cook until the temperature registers 250 F the ‘candy’ stage. While it’s cooking, begin whipping the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Once the sugar syrup has reached 250 F, with the mixer on, pour the syrup slowly onto the egg whites as they whip. Add the vanilla, also while the mixer is on. Continue whipping until the meringue glossy and holds stiff peaks. Sift the cocoa over the meringue and using a rubber spatula, carefully fold it into the whipped meringue. Dollop it onto the cooled pie.
  • To broil the meringue: if you don’t have a kitchen torch, you can preheat your oven to a high broil and set the pie under it for about 2 minutes, keeping a watchful eye on it.
  • Serving and storing: the pie can be stored in the fridge for 3 days. For even slices, run a knife under hot water and dry it, then slice through. Wipe the knife between slicing for clean cuts.

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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    This is the second year I’ve made this pie for Thanksgiving and it’s always a huge hit! If you’re like me, typical thanksgiving desserts are a little lacking in chocolate, and this brings chocolate to thanksgiving! The chocolate meringue is an incredible touch!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this brown butter chocolate pecan pie for Thanksgiving this year. It was my first forage into brown butter territory and I think I did it right, ;)! It was a big success and my husband said it tasted like a brownie in a pie. Exactly as described! Thank you for all your wonderful recipes and step by step instructions and pictures! So appreciated.

  3. 5 stars
    We made this pie for our special Christmas dessert this past year, and WOW! I was definitely nervous to make my *first ever* meringue, but the instructions were very clear & it went great – not to mention that the pie taste absolutely delicious. Definitely one of my prouder baking moments 🙂 great recipe!

  4. I just saw this posted on IG and you mentioned a marshmallow topping. Could you send it to me or tell me where to find. I searched your site w/no luck.

  5. 5 stars
    I made this for Thanksgiving this past year and it was such a hit! It almost didn’t make it to the table because I seriously thought I was going to eat all the batter before it went into the oven. The recipe is perfectly balanced in richness and sweetness.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! The crust turned out perfectly flaky. The chocolate pecan filling was rich and fudgey. I am looking forward to making this again for Christmas!

  7. 5 stars
    I tried them last week! The pie turned out to be amazing and soo delicious! But my meringue was watery☹️ And i wasn’t able to fix it

    • Sarine, sorry about the meringue! I wonder if it was beat long enough? I find that when I use a hand mixer the meringue takes quite awhile to get to stiff peaks (at least 12 minutes) whereas if I use a stand mixer it will be done in 7.

  8. 4 stars
    Made this for thanksgiving (filling and merengue only- I wanted to try a different pie crust recipe) and while it was delicious in the end, it kind of feels like just a brownie baked into a pie crust. I was hoping for a less firm, more pecan pie style with lots of chocolate. I would definitely still make this again, just lose the crust and turn it into brownies instead. The merengue recipe however was perfect as is and so easy to follow! Great idea to make it chocolate!

    • Rachel, I’m glad to hear that you really liked it but sorry it wasn’t the pecan pie you sought! It is definitely more of a brownie/chocolate chess pie, I tried to show that in the photos of the slices and my description in the text but perhaps it needs more emphasis. Thank you for the comment.

  9. 5 stars
    Made this today. Big hit with the family! Looked really pretty and tasted amazing. Would definitely make again. Appreciated the pictures of each step. I find that super helpful.

  10. 5 stars
    This beautiful pie was the star of my thanksgiving table. Delicious and so so chocolately, it was a huge hit! It was my first time ever making a pie or a pie crust and I was very intimidated by the process, but it turned out phenomenally!