My oh my, what a decadent cherry pie. Rich dark chocolate, deep purple cherries and sweet agave nectar nestled inside a flaky butter crust, laced with finely ground graham crackers.
Here’s another thing to add to my “you can’t get this in New York” list–cheap cherries. No matter what time of year it is, cherries never get as inexpensive as they are right now in the Bay Area. I bought these at Yasai Market on College Ave. in Oakland for $1.50 per pound, and the farmers’ markets have them for $2.50 per pound. That’s right my New York City friends, this means you can bake a cherry pie and still have money left over to pay the rent.
And what pairs with cherries better than chocolate? I used organic, fair-trade dark and milk chocolate from Dagoba. Chopping up the chocolate before you mix it with the cherries helps prevent an all-chocolate bite of pie, and helps it completely surround the cherries as it melts. There is not a pinch of white sugar in this recipe (except for garnish, and I did that for the sake of pretty pictures). The agave nectar and super ripe cherries give it all the sweetness it needs. Don't expect your run-of-the-mill syrupy cherry pie. This one is full-bodied and balanced, much like a fine glass of Cabernet.
There are a zillion flaky pie crust recipes to choose from online. There’s all-lard, all-butter, a combo of both, or even olive oil pie crusts. I prefer all-butter, but also sifted in ground graham crackers with the flour for texture, flavor and because they go so well with dark chocolate. Homemade pie crust is so simple, and as long as you keep all the ingredients as cold as possible, I guarantee it will bake up ten times better than store bought.
Ingredients for Chocolate Cherry Pie
One 9 inch pie dish
1 ½ cups organic, all-purpose flour. If you can, put it in the fridge overnight.
14 tablespoons of unsalted butter, frozen or very cold. That’s 2 sticks, minus 2 tablespoons.
1 teaspoon of salt
½ cup finely ground honey graham crackers. Use a food processor and chop them until they are the consistency of flour.
1 cup of icy cold water
1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash.
2 ½ pounds of fresh cherries (about 2 pounds pitted)
½ cup agave nectar
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
½ cup of shredded chocolate. Use mostly dark, with some milk chocolate mixed in, also chopped in a food processor.
First the butter
Chop the butter into small cubes and place in the freezer while you prepare everything else.
Pit the cherries using a handy cherry-pitter and put them in a large bowl. This contraption also works very well for olives. Add the chopped chocolate, 4 tablespoons of flour and the agave nectar. Gently toss until the cherries are well coated.
Preheat your oven to 400F. Sift together the flour, salt and ground graham crackers. Add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Make sure the cup of cold water is within reach. Add the frozen butter to the bowl and pulse. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough looks like course breadcrumbs. Try not to add too much water or your dough will be soggy. The dough should not form a ball in the food processor–it should just come together when you pinch it with your fingers.
I would have made the dough by hand using a pastry blender, but mine is apparently MIA. Next time...
Remove the dough from the bowl and work it with your hands to form a ball. Divide it in half. Lightly flour your surface, rolling pin and hands, and roll out one half of the dough until it fits into a 9 inch pie dish. Carefully pick it up and place it in the dish, cutting off the overhang.
Fill the dough with the cherry mixture.
Roll out the second half of the dough and place it on top of the pie. Pinch the sides closed with your thumb and forefinger, and use a sharp knife to cut three vents into the top of the crust. Brush with the egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes in the middle of your oven. Lower the heat to 350F and bake for 25 more minutes.
Cut it while it's hot and watch all the molten chocolate seep onto your plate. Enjoy.