Pumpkin pie is one of those foods that is pretty much perfect in its basic state. For variations, a chef might switch from a graham cracker crust to a regular pastry crust, or tweak the spices by adding more ginger, a pinch of cardamom or a touch less cinnamon. Even when all of these alterations are put into place, a pumpkin pie is pretty much still just a pumpkin pie. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a classic for a reason, after all!
But there isn’t anything wrong with changing tradition once in a while, either, and in light of this, I decided to make a chocolate pumpkin pie.
Chocolate and pumpkin go really well together in general (think about pumpkin cookies with chocolate chips, or something similar) and the idea for a chocolate pumpkin pie popped into my head when I was thinking about this fact. I couldn’t recall ever having seen a chocolate pumpkin pie and I certainly had never eaten one, so I had to wonder if the combination was a relatively undiscovered culinary masterpiece or, tastewise, a total miss.
Fortunately for me, the pie was more on the side of masterpiece: delicious, unique and easily worth having seconds. It had the slightly custardy texture that is the signature of a good pumpkin pie with a good burst of chocolate flavor to complement it. The flavors of the pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spices were strong, even through the chocolate, but there is more than enough chocolate flavor to please a chocoholic. In fact, this may very well be the perfect dessert for the holidays because you will be able to please the pie lovers and the chocolate lovers with one seasonal dish (unless they only like pecans, not pumpkin, in which case you might want to opt for pecan cake for the family dinner and save this pie all for yourself later).
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Graham Cracker Crust*:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 – 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (low fat is fine)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine all crust ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine. Press wet crumbs into the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Bake 12-15 minutes, until just beginning to brown at the corners.
Set aside to cool completely before filling.
Turn oven up to 425F.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until slightly foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in all the remaining ingredients, except the milk, and beat until smooth. Then whisk in the milk.
Pour mixture into prepared, cooled pie crust (you can also use a pastry crust or a store-bought pie crust) and bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for about 30 more minutes, until the pie filling jiggles only slightly and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and refrigerate if storing leftovers.
*While I typically like graham cracker crusts with pumpkin pie (and the one pictured here has a graham crust), this pie is also excellent with a regular crust. Use the instructions for this single crust pie to make and prebake the shell, then fill it with the pumpkin filling and bake as directed above.