It’s the end of summer and I know I should mark the occasion with a fruit pie finale and an impassioned plea for wringing the last drops of berry and stone fruit pie pleasure from the season, but…
…the problem is I’ve had a serious hankering for a really decadent chocolate pie over the last few weeks. It’s not like I’ve run out of fruit options or I’m happy to see summer fading in the rearview mirror, because I’m not; I’m all about long-hot-lazy days, weekend cookouts, and watermelon margaritas. So the chocolate pie thing is a bit of a fluke and really hard to explain, even to myself.
Allow me to digress: I had fully intended to bring you another genre of chocolate pie last week, one I’d never made before and which enjoys celebrity status in a particular region of this great country. (I am a visitor there in otherwise good standing, so that region and the pie itself shall remain nameless, except to say that a certain component of the filling has a textural kinship, in my opinion, to a yoga mat.) The pie was, in short, a dud.
Deflated but not defeated, I decided to take a different path, one that has served me well all summer long, and let the garden inform my quest for the chocolate pie of my fancy. That’s when I hit upon the idea of a mint chocolate brownie pie. Chocolate and mint are already good friends and share a long history together. You can grow chocolate mint, if you please. And get this: there’s even a National Chocolate Mint Day.
But how best, I wondered, to get my fresh mint into the brownie filling? And would there be enough of a minty flavor payoff to make the effort worthwhile?
Regarding the first issue – getting the mint into the pie – that was relatively easy: you grind it up with the sugar in the food processor. In seconds flat you’ll have fragrant and finely textured mint sugar, without the roughage. It should be readily apparent to your people that they’re biting into soft fudge brownie filling and not a hay bale.
Regarding the second question, I was surprised at just how much fresh mint was needed to bring out the flavor. I used a full cup of loosely packed leaves. Even at that the mint flavor is somewhat subtle – subtle, but absolutely worth it if you have a patch of mint in the backyard. Of course, you can always up the ante by adding a drop of mint oil or mint extract to the filling. But that’s cheating.
It wouldn’t be mint chocolate brownie pie without a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, so scoop away, ease into your hammock, and dig into this herb garden-inspired summer pie.
PASTRY NOTES: For this pie I recommend the Perfect Piecrust, in part because it makes just the right amount of dough for a standard (not deep-dish) pie pan recommended in the recipe. Feel free to use your favorite piecrust recipe. Just make sure it’s partially pre-baked prior to filling.