Desserts,  Pies

Chocopecankin Pie, the “Turducken” of Desserts

The Turducken—a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned turkey—makes a showstopping Thanksgiving centerpiece. Carving it is a parlor trick at the dinner table, but the dish owes its popularity to its quirky mashed-up name. Remember Brody’s Second Law of Marketing: If you can’t name it, you can’t sell it. (Honestly, though, didn’t anyone consider its first four letters?)

Ten years ago at Thanksgiving, our daughter Claire posed an intriguing question. With all the choices on the dessert table, why isn’t there a pie version of Turducken?

And thus, she created the Chocopecankin Pie.

Claire designed it like a target so that every slice—like the Turducken—would include each pie. To make the target, she lined a pie plate with pastry and then added concentric rings of dough. She built them up and crimped them to form the crusts for the interior pies.

Claire filled the outside ring with pumpkin, the inner ring with pecan, and the center mini-pie with chocolate filling (doesn’t everyone love a chocolate center?).

The pecan gave a chewy counterpoint to the spicy pumpkin and smooth chocolate. The fillings all baked well at 350 degrees, and voilà: flaky crust and three distinct and delicious pies in each slice.

Wouldn’t you know, in the years since Claire invented Chocopecankin Pie other desserts billed as Turducken equivalents have popped up, notably the “piecaken.” That odd combination stuffs any number of pies inside a cake, for a massive Frankendessert that challenges the shelf space in any fridge.

When I recently whined to Claire about how I wanted to make Chocopecankin Pie this year but was afraid of all the work, she replied with one simple argument: “It’s easier than croissants.” That logic wouldn’t sway most people, but since I will gladly devote two days to that famously formidable laminated French pastry, it convinced me to try.

She was right. All three fillings blend up quickly and easily. And it’s fun building the inside crusts. Hello, new Thanksgiving tradition.

We halved chocolate and pecan pie recipephanies to make the fillings. To complete the triumvirate, here’s our Spicy Smooth Pumpkin Pie recipephany. It combines my mom’s classic recipe with the spices Nancy Johnson, a dear longtime next-door neighbor, put into her signature sweet potato pie. More spices, more oomph—yet still smooth and light.

We needed just a little pumpkin pie filling for the Chocopecankin Pie, but we made the full recipe anyway. We couldn’t waste all that pumpkin and evaporated milk, right? Miraculously, like the fishes and loaves, we were able to make an entire pumpkin pie with the leftover filling and dough. Funny how I got my favorite Thanksgiving pie as a bonus.

So forget Turducken. Even with a scaled-down Thanksgiving, you can get all the desserts you dream of stuffed into one showstopping Chocopecankin Pie—and (if you want) a spare pumpkin pie thrown in for good measure.

Chocopecankin Pie

• Crust
Screwdriver Pie Crust
Double the two-crust recipe. You will probably have enough leftover for another pie—perhaps a pumpkin?

• Chocolate Pie Filling
The Oscars 2012: The Help (Yourself to Another Slice of) Chocolate Pie
Halve the recipe. Use the 4 tablespoons of evaporated milk leftover from Spicy Pumpkin Pie (below) recipe plus 2 tablespoons of milk or cream to make the 3/8 cup of evaporated milk that would be in half a recipe. You’ll have leftovers, which you can pour into ramekins and bake at 350° until done. They freeze well.

• Pecan Pie Filling
Robin’s Perfect Pecan Pie, found on Edith’s Flaky Pie Crust, and how it may become Chelsea Clinton’s favorite.
Halve the recipe, but use 2 eggs. You’ll have leftovers, which you can pour into ramekins and bake at 350° until done. They freeze well.

Chocopecankin Pie Assembly

  1. Roll out pastry for a 9-inch pie plate. Spread the bottom with a thin layer of soft butter to keep it crisp. Crimp the edge.
  2. Roll out and cut strips of dough to form concentric circles at 6 inches and 3 inches in from the rim. Crimp edges.
  3. Pour pumpkin filling into the first section, leaving a half inch or so to allow for rising. Pour pecan filling into the middle ring, and chocolate filling into the center mini-pie, also allowing for room for a slight rise.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for about 40 minutes, checking for doneness.

Spicy Smooth Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from recipes by Muriel Brody and Nancy Johnson

Heat oven to 375°. (For use in Chocopecankin pie, 350° works fine.)

1. Prepare pie crust.

2. Beat 2 eggs slightly. Add:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • and blend.

3. Add:

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 10 ounces evaporated milk, or one 12-ounce can minus 4 tablespoons. If using a large pie plate, you can use the full can.

4. Mix well and pour into unbaked shell.

5. Bake 40-45 minutes. Turn down temperature if its gets too brown, or cover crust with foil. Pie is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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