Why It Works
- Finely chopped dark chocolate, between 55% to 72% cacao, incorporates nicely into the filling without making the final product overly sweet
- Using just egg yolks, rather than whole eggs, prevents the filling from puffing excessively.
- Adding a little flour into the filling helps create a brownie-like texture and allows you to mound it on the dough without the filling running out of the galette as you fold it up.
A lot can go wrong with pecan pie. If you do it right, it can be the crown of your Thanksgiving table: a crackly sugar top hovering over meaty pecans suspended in a soft, gooey brown sugar filling. But when done poorly, it can be a sticky, cloying mess of corn syrup and nuts, barely set atop a soggy bottom. To avoid disappointment, I’ve taken to making a pecan chocolate galette—not just during the autumn, but all year long.
The galette is the easy-going, freeform, European cousin of American pie. With a galette, you don’t have to cajole your dough into a dish or force it to keep its edges primly poised on the lip of a pie plate. Once you’ve rolled out your dough, you just have to fill, fold, and go. If the shape is a little wonky, you can just chalk it up to its rustic charm.
Since the depth of a galette will always be significantly shorter than that of a pie, the required baking time is shorter as well. While a pecan pie can take an hour or more to bake in the oven, a pecan galette needs only half that time to cook, and means the cooling time is drastically reduced as well. Quicker, easier, and less painstaking all around? I can get behind that.
The Best Chocolate to Use
I’m a true dark chocolate lover, but for due diligence, I tested this galette with several different chocolates: semisweet chocolate chips, 72% cacao chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate chips, unsweetened baker’s chocolate bars, milk chocolate bars, and dark chocolate bars.
Combined with the corn syrup and brown sugar filling, the milk and semisweet chocolates proved far too sweet, and the caramel notes from low cacao percentage chocolates fought with brown sugar’s molasses notes, producing a bitter clash of flavors. On the other extreme, unsweetened chocolate provided great depth of flavor without adding sweetness, but was astringent and unpleasant to eat. In one test, I made the filling by melting unsweetened chocolate with the butter and sweeteners. It was by far the worst galette I made: It smothered the flavor of the pecans and lacked the soft, slightly chewy texture I wanted.
The 72% chocolate was delightfully dark without being too bitter, but didn’t incorporate well into the filling and left it studded with chips instead of the chocolate-scented pecan pie filling I was looking for. Luckily, finely chopping high-quality chocolate and mixing it with the chopped nuts before adding the liquid filling solved the chocolate riddle. (I tried and liked chocolate ranging from 55 to 72% cacao; above that, the chocolate produced a filling that was too bitter.)
Getting the Filling Right
I’d already pulled a fast one on the form of the pie, and wasn’t about to mess with the guts as well. I fiddled with the ratios of the core ingredients of pecan pie (butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt) until I got a mixture with a balanced sweetness that baked up soft on the inside with a slightly crackly top. The versions I made with whole eggs were puffing up irregularly and forcefully toward the beginning of baking, making the filling jump up and over the edge of the tart. Using just yolks solved this problem: while there was still some puff, it happened later in the baking process and didn’t cause the filling to spill over the edges. I also added some flour to stiffen up the filling enough to enable it to mound in the center. This way, you can easily fold the dough border up and over the filling without it running off.
The crust is the real make-or-break behind a great pie, and this, too, holds true with galettes. Much has already been said on how to make a great pie crust; there’s not much more I can add to that conversation. I’m in a deeply committed relationship with Stella Park’s Old-Fashioned All-Butter Pie Crust recipe, and once you give it a try, I’m sure you’ll be, too.