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Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

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How to make pecan pie even better? Add chocolate, of course!

There are desserts, and there are Desserts. This chocolate chip pecan pie recipe, adapted from one of the world’s best pastry chefs, hits all the marks: sweet, decadent, easy, and seasonal. And did we mention the bourbon? Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving Day or Derby Day, this is truly the ultimate chocolate pecan pie.

slice of chocolate pecan pie with bourbon

All about this chocolate chip pecan pie

I love nut desserts. Barring an allergy, who wouldn’t? Nuts’ earthy flavor combined with rich and crunchy texture make any dessert more interesting, and often much better.

This chocolate pecan pie recipe takes things to another level altogether. The recipe starts with a flaky, buttery pie crust base. Then, stir together a sweet, soft vanilla and sugar filling loaded with chopped toasted pecans, good chocolate, and a dose of bourbon for extra caramel notes. Pour into the pie dough shell, then bake in the oven until browned and set.

The finished dessert is the perfect combination of sweet, satisfying, and fabulous in a way that only a combination of chocolate and nuts can be. Best of all, it can be made in advance and frozen.

ingredients for chocolate chip pecan pie recipe

What’s the difference between Kentucky Derby pie and pecan pie?

Interesting history here. First, note that I did not write “Derby Pie,” in the heading above; “Derby Pie” (see also: “Derby-Pie”) is trademarked, meaning no one can use that official recipe title besides the trademark holder — in this case, Kern’s Kitchen, which has been making their chocolate nut pie since 1954.

Kentucky Derby-style pie often uses a combination of chocolate, bourbon, and walnuts in the filling. Pecans have taken a larger role in this pie, but walnuts are the more traditional style. Pecan pie uses, you guessed it, pecans.

toasted pecans on baking sheet
Toast the pecans on a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for an extra-nutty flavor.

Chocolate Pecan Pie With Bourbon: Recipe Notes and Questions, Answered

This chocolate chip pecan pie recipe is closely adapted from the famed pastry chef David Lebovitz. David Lebovitz earned his bona fides (and fame) as the head pastry chef at Chez Panisse, an iconic restaurant in Berkeley, California. (Please go!) David now has cookbooks, online recipe collections, a wonderful Paris-based food blog.

I made the following adaptations:

  • Used my own recipe for a single pie dough, or pâte brisée
  • Slightly tweaked the bourbon, pecan, and brown sugar ingredient quantities
  • Adjusted the baking time to ensure that the pie filling won’t ooze too much

I think you’ll enjoy this decadent pie so much, whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving Day or Derby Day.

pie filling being made and assembled
Whisk together the egg and sugar mixture, then fold in the nuts and chocolate chips before pouring into the pie shell and baking.

Is light or dark Karo (corn syrup) better for pecan pie? Why? Can I substitute one corn syrup for the other?

Either light or dark corn syrup will work. Karo is the most common brand, but any will work. Here’s the difference between light and dark corn syrup:

  • Light corn syrup has a clean, light, sweet vanilla flavor
  • Dark corn syrup has stronger caramel notes, on the spectrum of molasses, that will give the pie a slightly more robust flavor

This is similar to the difference between light and dark brown sugar. In terms of texture and how the Karo “works” in the recipe, light and dark are interchangeable.

chocolate pecan pie filling poured into unbaked pie shell

Do you have to refrigerate chocolate chip pecan pie?

Because of its egg-based filling, pecan pie should be refrigerated, according to USDA guidance. You do not have to serve this pie cold, however. Chocolate pecan pie can be brought to room temperature by sitting it on the countertop for a couple of hours before serving, or warmed in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven until warm room temperature.

Why did my pecan pie puff up?

That’s a good sign that the pecan pie is just about done! The pecan pie chocolate chips filling with puff slightly when the liquid content has mostly evaporated from the filling. The pie will then settle when it comes out of the oven.

Baked chocolate pecan bourbon pie recipe

Do I have to use bourbon? Can I leave it out? Substitute it for another alcohol?

Bourbon, a corn-based whiskey with deep Kentucky roots, adds a layer of caramel and vanilla flavor notes to the pie. Some, but not all, of the alcohol content cooks off when baking the pie. With a fair percentage of the bourbon cooking off, you will not have an alcohol flavor, but rather caramel tasting notes of bourbon.

That said, you can completely leave the alcohol out. Dark brown sugar (vs. light brown) and dark corn syrup can help boost the caramel flavor and aroma instead.

If you don’t have bourbon, you can substitute another kind of whiskey, or other brown liquor such as brandy or cognac.

How to tell when pecan pie is done baking

This chocolate bourbon pecan pie recipe calls for a baking time of approximately 50 minutes. The pie is done when the pecan pie filling puffs up slightly, looks golden brown, and has set in the center. Give it a light shake in the oven. If it jiggles in the center, the pie needs a few more minutes. If it is still and solid, it’s done.

slice of pecan chocolate chip pie with bourbon
Check out those gooey layers!

Recipe Ingredients: Pecan Pie With Chocolate Chips

For this chocolate chip pecan pie recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • One 9-inch store-bought or homemade pie crust
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups light brown sugar or dark brown sugar (depending on how strong a flavor you want)
  • 2/3 cups corn syrup, light or dark (depending on how strong a flavor you want)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves and pieces
  • 3/4 cups good-quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli or Guittard)

baked pie with set center

Recipe Steps: Chocolate Pecan Pie With Bourbon

Chocolate chip pecan pie with bourbon comes together easily. Make the pie dough and chill, mix the filling, pour into the pie shell, and bake. More specifically:

  1. Make the pie dough. Roll into a 9-inch pie plate and chill, covered, at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Toast the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet until fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool. Toasting the pecans adds more flavor.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter, bourbon, and salt. Stir in the nuts and chips with a spoon.
  4. Pour the pecan chocolate chip filling mixture into the pie shell. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the center is set.
  5. Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Serve plain or with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

This chocolate chip pecan pie with bourbon bonus is the ultimate Thanksgiving and Derby Day dessert. Store, covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, in the refrigerator. This pie also keeps well in the freezer. Enjoy.

sliced chocolate chip pecan pie recipe

If you like this recipe, you’ll also like:

chocolate chip pecan pie recipe, with bourbon Kentucy Derby style.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie

This chocolate chip pecan pie recipe, with added bourbon for extra caramel flavor, yields the ultimate Thanksgiving pecan pie or Kentucky Derby Day dessert. Sweet, gooey, decadent, loaded with nuts and chocolate, the best part is how easy it is to make. Adapted and inspired by David Lebovitz.
Prep Time25 minutes
Pie Dough Chilling Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keywords:: chocolate chip pecan, chocolate chips, christmas desserts, easy, Kentucky Derby, pecan pie recipe, pecans, pie dough, thanksgiving recipes
Servings: 1 9" pie (serves about 8 people)
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Ingredients

Single 9" Pie Dough

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Filling

  • 2 cups pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup corn syrup, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions

For the Pie Dough

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt with your fingers or a whisk.
  • Add the cold, diced butter and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until the butter is the texture of small peas. The butter does not have to be too combined – there should still be loose flour.
  • Add the water and stir with your fingers until it all holds together in a shaggy mass, and turn out onto countertop.
  • Dust the countertop with flour. Shape/press each half into a thick, flat disc about 1/2” thick. Dust top and bottom with flour. Roll out the dough out with a rolling pin until the dough is about two inches wider than the pie pan and about 1/8" thick.
  • Transfer the pie dough into a 9" pie plate. Press the dough into the plate, and trim the excess. Shape the rim with fork tines or by pinching with your fingers all the way around. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill for two hours or overnight.

For the Chocolate Pecan Pie Filling and to Finish

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Toast the pecan pieces in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet until fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Cool.
    PRO TIP: You can skip toasting the pecan pieces, but toasting the pecans adds more flavor.
    toasted pecans on baking sheet
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter, bourbon, and salt. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips with a spoon.
    pie filling being made and assembled
  • Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled pie dough. Pour the pecan chocolate chip pie filling mixture into the pie shell. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the center is set.
    PRO TIP: You can tell that the center is set by giving the pie a jiggle. If it stays solid in the middle, it's done.
    chocolate pecan pie filling poured into unbaked pie shell
  • Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. Serve plain, or with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
    sliced chocolate chip pecan pie recipe

Notes

This pie can be made up to three days in advance. Store in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. To serve, bring to room temperature on the countertop, or heat in a 325 degree oven just until warmed through.
You can also freeze chocolate chip pecan pie, wrapped as above.
A great random baking tip when measuring out sticky liquids like corn syrup or molasses: Grease the measuring cup. The liquid will pour right out.
It's important to note that some, but not all, of the alcohol content will cook off when the pie is baked. You can omit the bourbon or other whiskey entirely if you have alcohol considerations.

3 comments

  • 5 stars
    Echoing the other comments here. This was very good and the filling delicious. I recommend serving with whipped cream.

  • Amelia Short

    5 stars
    5-star pie. This was wonderful.

  • Jillian Horner

    5 stars
    Made this for Thanksgiving. It was a huge hit. Everyone was raving about it. The chocolate pecan filling was perfection and it was also a very uncomplicated recipe. Be sure to cut smaller slices because it is a little rich!

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