Home for the Holidays: Dark Chocolate Cranberry Pie

Pie, pie, everywhere there’s pie! Cheryl over at TidyMom.net is graciously hosting her 4th Annual Love the Pie party, where rabid bakers across the internet share mouthwatering pie recipes. There are so many varieties of pies that it nearly boggles the mind trying to decide which one to try next. We’re talking serious pastry, Friends.

Why is Love the Pie so significant? Well, because everybody loves pie! And if you don’t, then you haven’t tried my newest-favorite crusted creation–Dark Chocolate Cranberry Pie. Yeah, you read that right. I made a chocolate pie, and topped it with fresh cranberry sauce…and it is good.

“Candy might be sweet, but it’s a traveling carnival blowing through town. Pie is home. People always come home.” ~ Pushing Daisies

The rich dark chocolate is perfectly complemented by the tangy cranberries. It’s sweet without being too sweet. It warms your heart with the kind of joy that only a good slice of pie can. I think this one is going to be a new Thanksgiving tradition in our house. I can’t help but to share it with you, and all the pie lovers linking to the Love the Pie Party. Just in case you are in a sharing mood, it may interest you to know that Cheryl has some great prizes lined up for those who enter their favorite pie recipes–no the the least of which includes a brand-spankin’ new Whirlpool Range!

So, Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom  sponsored by Whirlpool and enter to win a new Whirlpool Range! You don’t have to be a blogger to enter! Just leave a favorite pie recipe in the comments section.

In the meantime, how about bringing something a little different for dessert this Thanksgiving?

To make a Dark Chocolate Cranberry Pie, grab a couple of disks of your favorite pie dough, dark chocolate chips, heavy cream, vanilla extract, brown sugar, fresh cranberries, salt, and an egg for the egg wash.

One of the great things about this particular pie is that it can be made a day or two ahead of time. It’s also made in stages with a lot of time spent chilling in the ‘fridge between stages, so you have plenty of time to work on all the other holiday preparations. Or maybe take a nap.

Hey, a girl can dream!

Roll out a disk of pie dough to a 1/4-inch thickness and line a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.

Fold the overhanging edge under to be level with the edge of the pie plate. At this point, the pastry can be docked, filled with pie weights, and blind baked in the oven. That seems like kind of boring treatment for such a special pie, don’t you think?

No boring pies allowed! Pop that pastry lined pie plate in the refrigerator, and grab another disk of pie dough. Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness because we’re going to pretty-up the edges of this pie!

If you have any 1-inch cookie cutters, they work beautifully to trim the edges of pies. Otherwise, a paring knife can be used to cut free-form shapes. I used a small maple leaf shaped cookie cutter to cut exactly twenty-nine 1-inch shapes out of the other sheet of pastry. Why exactly twenty-nine? No reason other than that’s how many I was able to get from the disk of dough. 😉

For more definition, take a toothpick and press a design on the interior of the leaves. After definition was added, slide the leaves onto a small cookie sheet, and saddled them next to the lined pie plate in the refrigerator.

Chill all of the pastry for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

After the dough has sufficiently chilled, set all of it on the counter, and make an egg wash by whipping an egg with a tablespoon and a half of water. Brush the pastry along the rim of the pie plate with the egg wash. Then lightly brush the underside of each cutout with the egg wash before applying them to the rim of the pie, overlapping and pressing slightly as you go along.

Once applied, brush a thin layer of egg wash over the cutout edge. Any extra cutouts can (and should) also be brushed with egg wash and baked on a baking sheet for 5 or so minutes–think of it as a good way to test your oven temperature. 😉

This recipe calls for blind baking the pie shell. “Blind baking” is the term used to refer to either partially baking a pie shell to keep the crust from becoming soggy from a wet filling (e.g.; pumpkin or custard pies,) or to completely baking a pie shell that is to be filled with a “no bake” cold filling, as is the case with this pie.

Generously “dock” the pie dough with a fork. The same cold butter fats that make the pastry so flaky also release steam and create air pockets as it melts in the oven, which adds to the flakiness factor. Normally the weight of the pie filling weighs down the bottom crust, but since this pie will be filled after baking, the bottom crust will not be weighed down, and will have the tendency to “puff up” as the steam escapes while baking. Docking the crust allows steam to escape and help keep that bottom of the crust flat, and consequently leaves room for maximum filling capacity.

Feel the pie dough–if it feels soft or warm, place that prettied-up pie shell back into the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to give the fats time to firm up again before baking. When the dough is warm at the time it is put in the oven, the dough has a tendency to “melt” and slide to the bottom of the pie plate. Don’t let this happen to you. The secret to successfully blind baking a pie shell is to have it be very cold before going in the oven, and then baking it quickly in a hot oven.

I happen to have a weighted pie chain which is perfect for blind baking pie shells. In the absence of a pie chain, a pound of dried beans will do nicely to weigh down the bottom of the pie shell and keep it from puffing up and out of control.

For a standard crimped edge, I just lay a sheet of parchment inside the pie shell, and fill it with pie weights, without much thought to how everything lies. However since this pie shell has a decorative edge, a little more precision is necessary–cut a circle of parchment that is roughly the size of the interior of the pie shell before placing the pie weights inside.

Bake the pie shell at 425°F for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the pastry begins to brown. Remove the pie shell from the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Brush a thin layer of egg wash to the bottom of the pie shell, and return the pie to the oven to finish baking for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. The second application of egg wash to the bottom of the pie shell will seal it and keep it from getting soggy under the filling.

Let the pie shell cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the pie shell has cooled completely, prepare the dark chocolate filling. The filling is a simple chocolate ganache, which is a combination of melted chocolate and heavy cream. Place the dark chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl, heat it in the microwave set to 70% power, in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between until chocolate is smooth and the cream is fully incorporated. My mid-watt microwave takes around 90 seconds to accomplish this task.

Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell. Refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours, or until the filling has set. (Chilling overnight is fine.)

While the pie is chilling, place the fresh cranberries, brown sugar, water, and salt into a sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the cranberries begin to pop and sauce thickens–about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a ceramic container and chill in the refrigerator until completely cool.

Once the chocolate has set and the cranberry sauce is cool, spoon the sauce over the chocolate filling, and then decorate with a few extra cutouts. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Serve Dark Chocolate Cranberry Pie the next time you want something a little chocolatey, a little tangy, and a whole lot scrumptious.


Dark Chocolate Cranberry Pie


Makes One 9-inch Pie

Pastry for a single crust 9-inch pie

1 egg plus 1 ½ Tbs. water, for egg wash

1 C. dark chocolate chips

2/3 C. heavy whipping cream

½ tsp. vanilla extract

12 oz. fresh cranberries

½ C. light brown sugar, packed

¼ C. water

1/8 tsp. salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Roll out pastry and line a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with the pastry, crimping the edges as desired. Dock the bottom and sides of the pastry with a fork.
  3. Chill the lined pie pan for 30 minutes.
  4. After chilling the pastry, line the inside with a sheet of parchment and fill the bottom with pie weights or dried beans to weigh down dough. Brush egg wash over the edges of the dough.
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the sides of the pastry begin to brown.
  6. Remove the pie shell from the oven.
  7. 7.      Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  8. Carefully remove the pie weights and parchment, trying not to bump the edges of the pie. Lightly brush the interior sides and bottom of the pie shell with the egg wash, and continue to bake in the now 375F oven for 3 to 5 minutes until golden.
  9. Set the pie shell on a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.
  10. Place the dark chocolate chips and heavy cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 70% power in 30 second bursts, stirring well in between, until chocolate is melted, smooth, and cream is incorporated. (The process takes about 90 seconds in my mid-watt microwave.) Stir in the vanilla extract until incorporated.
  11. Pour the chocolate filling into the cooled pie shell, smoothing the top to level the filling. Chill pie (uncovered) for at least 2 hours (or overnight) for filling to set.
  12. While the chocolate filling is chilling, prepare the cranberry topping.
  13. Rinse the fresh cranberries, and pick through to remove any spoiled berries.
  14. Place the cranberries in a small sauce pan with the brown sugar, water, and salt.
  15. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until cranberries begin to “pop” and sauce thickens. (Between 3 to 5 minutes.) Place the cranberry sauce (uncovered) in the refrigerator to cool.
  16. Once the chocolate filling has set, spoon the cooled cranberry sauce over the chocolate, leveling the top.
  17. Cover and chill the pie for at least an hour, or until ready to serve.

NOTES: The secret to successful blind baking a pie shell is to bake the dough quickly in a hot oven. Brushing the interior of the shell with the egg wash toward the end of the baking time will help to “seal” the crust and keep it from getting soggy once filling is added. Remember to reduce the oven temperature before continuing to bake the pie shell after this step, or the crust will burn. Also, it is very important the pie shell is completely cool before the chocolate filling is added, and the chocolate layer must be cool and completely set before adding the cranberry layer.

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  1. rainjerette says

    Hmmmm, my daughter’s favorite foods combined. Do you think coconut milk (full fat version) could be substituted for the heavy cream?

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