Perfectly flaky chocolate pie crust, made with dutch process cocoa. This recipe is filled with exact tips to help you make a cocoa pie crust that keeps its shape and taste wonderful.
Is there really anything better than pie crust (besides a chocolate chip cookie that is)? To me, it is the best thing about pie and plain pie crust is just perfect. But if you are like me, I bet you want to shake it up once in a while and give one of your pies this season a little flair.
My favorite pie crust recipe comes from the Ovenly cookbook, I use it in almost all my pie recipes on this site – adjusting for the type of flour I’m using, whether I’m using a flavor additions, etc. This recipe was created on that base; swapping some flour for cocoa and adding sugar for sweetness.
First, why is this a ‘cocoa pie crust’ and not a ‘chocolate pie crust’?
Short answer: because that’s what it’ll taste like! The recipe is comparable to most chocolate pie crusts you’ll find but the thing about those and this that the crust is made the three pillars: butter/flour/cocoa and without other sugar or liquid, there’s not much ‘chocolate’ flavor in there. It tastes like a pie crust with wonderful cocoa!
Cocoa Pie Crust Ingredients
Butter: unsalted and should be very cold. Best way to start with the butter is remove it from the fridge, cube it and set it in the freezer while you measure out the rest of the ingredients. The goal is to keep this as cold as possible so that it melts in the oven, releases steam and gives us flaky layers.
Flour: Any all-purpose flour will do although I’m personally partial to flours that have a lower protein content for pie crusts. The finer mill
Sugar: We need just a bit and having this helps offset some of the bitterness that comes from the cocoa. Don’t use brown here, it doesn’t distribute as well in the pie crust.
Salt: If your butter is salted you’ll want to add less salt to the dough, a pinch or two will be enough. Best to use unsalted. Most important is that the butter should be COLD.
Cocoa: Dutch process cocoa will give you a deep, rich chocolate taste and a dark color.
Vinegar: I use just a bit of this and it’s something I learned in my brief stint at pastry school; it encourages the crust to stay flaky by inhibiting too much gluten formation.
Water: If you have access to very cold water use that, if you have cold or room temperature water, drop an ice cube into a bowl of water and measure the water from that.
Cocoa pie crust filled with chocolate custard from this recipe and topped with chocolate whipped cream.
How to make Cocoa Pie Crust
There’s a few steps to this, and a lot of chilling but let’s break it down:
- Make the dough (whisk dry ingredients, cut in the butter, bring dough together)
- Chill the dough
- Roll out the dough and shape into pie pan
- Chill the dough
- Blind bake: wrap in foil and fill with weights to bake
- Remove foil & weights, bake again (with or without filling depending on the filling)
How to partially bake Cocoa Pie Crust
For fillings that need to be baked. If you were making an apple pie for example, you’d partially bake the crust with the foil and pie weights, then add the filling and return the pie to the oven so everything fully bakes together.
How to fully bake Cocoa Pie Crust
You’ll want a fully baked crust for fillings that don’t need to be baked (puddings that are cooked, or a no-bake cheesecake for example). To do this you’ll bake the crust twice; once covered and with pie weights then again without the foil & weights (after docking it).
Does the type of butter matter for pie crust?
I’ve read and heard a lot about European style butter being better for pie crusts because of its higher butterfat percentage, and I think there is some truth to it adding flavor. But truthfully I hate using it here because it melts very quickly and that is exactly what we want to avoid. I find that using American style butter (the cheap stuff from Trader Joes) gives me the flaky, flavorful crust we all love.
What to fill Cocoa Pie Crust with?
I used this recipe to make this double chocolate pecan galette a few times (no par-baking necessary for a galette) and I’ve also done a full bake with this chocolate custard. Really, the options are limitless. If you are going for a filling that needs to be baked then do a partial baked for the crust. For a filling that doesn’t need baking, a full bake.
How do I know when the cocoa crust is done?
Because it’s so dark it can be hard to tell when this pie crust is done baking – especially if you are doing a full blind bake with no filling to give you cues. If you take the pie out to check on it, the edges (the thickest part of the pie) should be very firm and so should the bottom of the pie.
Tools for making pie crust
- Pastry cutter: to cut in the butter, no other tool works as well and gives you perfect control over the butter pieces. (I had the oxo for a few years but it broke and recently got this one and love it; I use this for scones too).
- A thick rimmed, metal pie pan: this is mine
- Pastry tamper; for years I used the bottom of a measuring cup (which still works well!) but recently got this one and am very happy with how the shape works
- Kitchen scissors, for trimming excess dough
- Dried beans or pie weights: You can reuse the beans multiple times (mine are on their 20th pie this season!)
With proper chilling time between steps, and careful handling during bake time this crust will hold shape!
Cocoa Pie Crust Recipe
Cocoa Pie Crust
- a 9" round metal pie pan
- ¾ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour 260g
- ¼ cup dutch process cocoa 32g
- ¾ cups butter cold, cubed and unsalted 165g
- 2-3 tablespoons ice water
- ½ teaspoon apple cider or plain vinegar
- Make the dough: In a bowl, whisk together the salt, sugar, flour and cocoa. Use a pastry cutter to work in the butter, stopping when you have a mix of pea and kidney bean sized pats of butter. Pour in the ice water and vinegar and use your hands to bring the dough together (it will take quite a few ‘folds’; it’s a bit like kneading the dough but mostly you are trying to get into a dry, loose ball). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill for at least two hours but up to 24 hours.
- Shape the dough: on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about ½ cm thickness rounding it by rolling in different directions to create a circle. The dough should be about 3 inches wider than your pie pan (set your pie pan upside down on the pie crust to check it). Roll the crust gently onto the rolling pin and then lay it on the pie pan (no need to grease the pan). Using your fingertips gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan. Fold the outer edge over itself so you have a thick layer to shape. Shape the edges by pressing the dough between your index and thumb fingers on one hand, and your index finger on the other hand. Chill the crust in the fridge for at least an hour, but up to 4-6 hours (I have also done this overnight, it works out alright).
- First blind bake: Preheat oven to 375 F. Set the pie on a cookie sheet and cover it completely with foil. You’ll need at least two sheets of foil to do this; every piece of the dough should be covered. Wrap the foil around the edges of the crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans, all the way to the rim of the pie (I like to put a piece of parchment paper between the foil and beans so I can easily lift them out). Bake for 20 minutes. If you are filling the pie with something that needs to be baked, fill it then return it to the oven.
- Second bake (for a fully baked crust): Remove the foil and dried beans and dock the pie crust with a fork all over. Return it to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.