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Chocolate Secretariat Pie

May 23, 2011

slice of chocolate secretariat pie

Sometimes life calls for pie. Like when it rains through your entire stay-cation, which you planned on spending basking in the sun in the arboretum among the lilacs.  Really, whether you have ruined plans or not, clouds and rain for a week straight can start to bring anyone down. So, since we have yet to invest in one of those sun lamps for seasonal affective disorder, we make pie. Sinful pie.

nuts and chocolate

This pie is our version of the legendary, trademarked Derby Pie. Except more sinful. To start with, we made a chocolate crust instead of the traditional pie crust, we toasted the nuts and browned the butter for a deeper, nuttier flavor, and we used the whisk-and-wait method of combining the butter and sugars to create a rich toffee taste for the cookie like topping. The result was nothing short of mood changing.

creamed butter and sugarchocolate crust batter

Chocolate Crust (crust recipe adapted from Saveur)


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until well combined, about one minute. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium until smooth. Add the flour and cocoa powder and beat on low until just combined.

Remove the dough from your mixer, form it into a disk, and saran wrap it. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for one hour.

Remove the dough, unwrap it and roll it out, on a lightly floured surface, into a large circle about 3/16th of an inch thick – i.e. roll it out thinly in a circle that will at least fill your pie pan. Transfer the crust to the pie pan and press into the sides (don’t worry if it breaks in the process, just piece it back together and no one will ever know). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prick the crust all over with a fork, then cover with parchment paper and pie weights and blind bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. After 15 minutes, remove the parchment and weights, and return to the oven to bake another 5-10 minutes, until the crust looks dry and set. Remove from the oven and let cool before filling.

chocolate secretariat pie assembled waiting to be cooked


When browning your butter it is easiest to use a stainless steel pan, so that you can easily see the butter browning – not an easy task with non-stick or cast iron.

Any kind of chocolate chips may be used – we used half dark chocolate, half semisweet.


1 stick butter, cut into half inch slices

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp salt

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 ¼ cups toasted pecans, chopped

1 ¼ cups chocolate chips

Heat three quarters of your butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling constantly, until the butter browns (it will literally turn brown and will smell toasty when done), then remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl containing the un-melted butter. Stir the butter until it is all melted, then whisk in the sugar, salt and vanilla. At this point your mixture will take on a heavenly smell! When the sugars are incorporated, add the egg and yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth – about 30 seconds. Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes, then whisk again for 30 seconds. Repeat three times. Your mixture should be smooth and shiny (see photo below).

Stir in the flour and half of the nuts with a wooden spoon (do not use your whisk) until just combined. Set aside.

Spread the chocolate chips and remaining nuts in an even layer on the bottom of your cooled crust. Top with your batter, attempting as even a layer as possible.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. The pie is done when the top is golden brown and the filling is set.

We highly recommended increasing your decadence level by eating your pie warm topped with ice cream.  

smooth and shiny stage of batter

chocolate secretariat pie partly eaten
2 Comments leave one →
  1. Annie Huppert permalink
    May 26, 2011 10:55 am

    Oh my heavens, that looks scrumptious. A piece of that pie would’ve surely pulled me out of my weather-induced funk, too! Mmm.

    • May 26, 2011 11:13 am

      Thanks Annie! When all else fails, make something with a stick of butter in it:)

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