If you’re intimidated by traditional pie crust, first you should check this out, then you should make a Salty Caramel Chocolate Pie that requires no dough making, rolling, or crimping. It’s a “pat in the pan” crust which are the easiest ever and no longer only for graham crackers, you can pat into your pan speculoos biscuits, animal crackers, saltines, or in this case, pretzels! This is most likely not the pie your grandma has made for years, but we are all about new traditions that start with you. The salty crust perfectly sets off the caramel filling and of course there’s a silky layer of ganache on top because: obvious. Your first bite will do that thing that perfectly balanced salty/sweet treats do where your mouth floods and demands you take another bite STAT! My Mother who is visiting wants me to tell you to have some cold milk with this because it’s very rich, and she’s looking out for you. Also I recommend serving cold and trying to keep cold as the caramel likes to ooze as it warms up, which is yummy, but messy.
Pretzel Crust –
8 ounces (225 grams) pretzels
8-10 tablespoons melted butter (if your crust is still dry, add a little more)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup brown butter (you don’t need to use brown butter, but it’s a nice touch if you have time)
2 tablespoons mascarpone (I was out so I used cream cheese with terrific results)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate choppped
Crust – Grind the pretzels in a food processor or blender until finely ground, pour in the butter and mix (hands work well for this) until the texture is that of wet sand. Add more butter if your mixture seems dry. Firmly press crumbs into a 9 inch pie pan. Chill the crust in the freezer or fridge for 15 minutes. Bake in a 400 oven for 8 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Filling – In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together water, sugar and honey until the sugar is mostly disolved. Cook over medium high heat, moving the pan around occasionally (but DO NOT STIR) until the caramel has turned a dark amber and reached around 320-340 degrees on a candy termometer. Keep smelling it, you don’t want it to smell like it’s burning at all and steam is okay, but smoke is bad.
Remove caramel from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the pan, whisking constantly. Use caution as your caramel will bubble and steam. Whisk in the butter, mascarpone, then the vanilla and salt. Pour the filling into your pre-baked pie shell, and refrigerate it, uncovered until fully set – about 4-5 hours.
Topping – Heat the cream until scalded, then pour it over your chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk until glossy. Spread or drizzle ganache over the filling, allow it to set, sprinkle with flake salt and serve.
This pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered well in plastic wrap. Serve cold and push a piece of foil into the void after serving so your caramel doesn’t ooze into the gap. For easier slicing, run your knife under hot water to prevent the caramel from sticking to the blade.
Recipe adapted from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave.