Makes one 9-inch pie
This is not your traditional pecan pie, but there will be no regrets when you slice into this beauty. The combination of gooey dates, rich espresso, a salty-sweet chocolate crust and pillowy whipped cream is unbelievably decadent. The dates and maple syrup cook down to give you that gooey filling you expect, but without all of the corn syrup found in your typical recipe. You can easily make this pie a day or two in advance and store at room temperature. Pile on the espresso whipped cream right before serving.
- 40 chocolate cookie wafers (8 ounces), such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 cups pecan halves
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
- 1 cup pitted and chopped Rancho Meladuco medjool dates (about 6 dates)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Flaky sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon Instant espresso powder
- 1½ cups cold heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Make the crust Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, pulse the cookies until finely ground; you should have about 1½ cups of crumbs. Drizzle the butter over the cookie crumbs, then add the sugar and salt. Pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Alternatively, place the cookies in a large, resealable plastic bag. Seal the bag and use a rolling pin or small skillet to finely crush the cookies. Add the butter, sugar and salt, close the bag again and massage the ingredients together until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
Scrape the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan. Spread in an even layer along the bottom and up the side of the pan with your fingers until they’re flush with the edge of the pan. Using a small dry measuring cup, press the crumbs evenly against the side and bottom of the pan to create a uniformly even, compact surface. Bake until the crust is set and lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack to cool while you make the pie filling.
Make the filling Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until fragrant and toasty, about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, whisk the maple syrup with the brown sugar, butter, instant espresso powder, cornstarch and salt. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. While whisking constantly, stream in the beaten eggs until smooth, then fold in the pecans, dates and vanilla extract.
Scrape the filling into the prepared crust. Transfer the pie to a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the lower rack until the filling is set around the edges but still slightly loose in the center, about 35 minutes. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely
To serve, make the whipped cream In a small bowl, whisk the Instant espresso powder with 1 teaspoon of water until dissolved. In a large bowl and using an electric hand mixer, whip the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the espresso, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, if using, and whip until soft peaks return, about 1 minute. Pile the whipped cream on top of the pie and spread in an even layer. Serve right away.
MAKE AHEAD The pie can be covered and stored at room temperature overnight. Top with whipped cream before serving.
Recipe & Photos by Julia Heffelfinger