Vail baking: Pie tastes like a chocolate chip cookie |

Vail baking: Pie tastes like a chocolate chip cookie

Vera Dawson
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail baking: Chocolate Chip Pie is easy to make - especially with a pre-made pie shell

Chocolate chips… the great equalizer

Whether you’re young or old, a fast-foodie or a gourmand in Colorado’s Vail Valley, they put a smile on your face. So, this pie is bound to be well-received. It’ll remind you of a chocolate chip cookie, warm from the oven.

But, in pie or tart form, it seems a little more sophisticated … worthy of dessert status … rather than just a snack.

Its universal popularity is probably enough to win you, but if you need more reason to consider it, this dessert is easy to make. If you use a purchased pie shell, it’s in the oven in about 10 minutes and you have only a bowl, whisk, and a few measuring cups and spoons to wash.

The pie/tart is at its very best served warm, but is still enjoyable at room temperature. You can make it ahead and re-warm it just before serving.

It’s good on its own but really shines with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a topping of ice cream – pick your favorite flavor. So many go well with it: vanilla, coffee, chocolate chip, cookie dough, or chocolate, for example.

Make in a 9-inch tart pan or a purchased nine inch deep dish pie shell


Tart Shell (if using)

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of flour (gently spoon into measuring cup and level)

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt, preferably kosher

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, cold

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons of cream, half-and-half, or milk


1 commercial nine-inch, deep dish pie shell


2 large eggs

1/2 cup (one stick) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of bourbon or water

3/4 cup of all purpose flour

1 cup of chopped walnuts

1 cup of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Step One: Make the tart shell. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until mixed. Cut the cold butter into eight pieces, add them to the bowl and pulse until the dough looks like particles the size of oatmeal. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of cream. Add this mixture to the dough. Pulse until it is uniformly damp, clumps together, and forms large, shaggy curds. Don’t let it form a ball on the blade. Dump the dough on a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap. Gently knead and/or squeeze it into a disc, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease only the bottom of the tart pan. Roll the chilled dough to a circle approximately 11 inches wide. Transfer the rolled dough to the tart pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. Trim the top and refrigerate or freeze until the dough is quite firm. Remove the dough-lined pan from the refrigerator; line the dough with non-stick aluminum foil, fill with pie weights, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for about 17 minutes, until the sides of the tart shell are set.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees; remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the weights and foil. Return the pan to the oven and bake the shell until it is completely set and beginning to color. Remove the pan from the oven and let the shell cool completely.

Prebaking is optional if you’re using a purchased pie shell. Prebake according to the directions on the package if you prefer a crisp crust (I think it adds a great deal to the overall taste of the tart).

Step Two: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make the filling: Combine the two eggs, melted butter, sugar, vanilla and bourbon or water in a mixing bowl. Whisk these ingredients until they are well blended and the sugar is no longer visible. Add the flour and whisk again, only until it is completely absorbed. Stir in the chopped walnuts and the chocolate chips. Pour the filling into the pie/tart shell and smooth and level the top. You may not use all the filling, depending upon the depth of the shell. Fill only to about a quarter of an inch from the top of the pie/tart shell; the filling puffs a little bit as it bakes.

Step Three: Bake until the top is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The time this takes will depend upon the depth of the filling. Start checking after about 30 minutes in the oven if you’re using a tart pan with one inch sides. If you’re using a deep-dish pie pan or a tart pan with two inch sides, start checking after about 40 minutes. It could take up to an hour to finish baking in a deep pan. When it’s done, remove the baked pie/tart from the oven.

Step Four: Serve this dessert warm. If you’ve made it earlier in the day, let it cool completely, cover and refrigerate it. Reheat it gently in the oven or in the microwave until it’s warm to the touch. I find it’s easier to cut the pie/tart into serving pieces before reheating them. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, and/or a good commercial chocolate sauce, if desired.

The tart dough is a variation of a recipe by Karen Barker.

Contact Vera Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at

Vera Dawson, a Chef Instructor in the Culinary Institute of the Colorado Mountain College, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude.

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