Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dinner | Dojo Izakaya

Last week, the team from Sushi Dojo (my review can be found here) invited me to check out its new-ish restaurant, Dojo Izakaya. Marcus and I have been huge fans of Sushi Dojo since our first visit, so anything cooked up by Chef David Bouhadana immediately had my attention.

Dojo Izakaya is a traditional izakaya, a casual Japanese drinking establishment that serves fare that complement its beverage offerings (essentially, a Japanese gastropub). Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by Lindsay, the restaurant's friendly server who took care of us for the duration of our meal.

The dining room, albeit small, is cozy and intimate, inspiring shared bites and conviviality.

And what a vibrant selection of sake this izakaya boasts, many of which are not served in the traditional glass bottle, but in a glass "cup" shaped like a can -- it might not be a real novelty or anything, but I was certainly fascinated with them. Plus these cups have been repurposed as the restaurant's drinking glasses -- how nifty!

We decided to try our luck with the sake menu by diving headfirst into a junmai daiginjo ("Purest Pleasure" by Wakatsuru) and our ever persistent favorite, a nigori (One Cup by Ozeki). Daiginjo, per the menu's apt description, is super premium sake with complex flavors and fruity aroma, while nigori is a cloudy, unfiltered sake. Marcus and I took a sake class awhile back at New York Vintners, and our instructor had said if there was anything to take away from class was ginjo and daiginjo. Clearly that stuck with us, because Purest Pleasure was indeed quite a satisfying sake with its smooth, well-rounded savory taste. As for this nigori, it possessed a " creamy rich flavor balanced with an elegant sweetness and a refreshing aftertaste."

View of the dining room's other side.

First up were the fried shishito peppers in tempura as well as oshinko (assorted Japanese pickles which came recommended by Lindsay) that consisted of kimchi, takuan (pickled daikon), umeboshi (pickled plums), carrots, and cucumbers. I usually see blistered shishito peppers on izakaya menus, so it was great to see that Dojo Izakaya took it one step further with a light battering of tempura which added a nice texture to the sweet crunch from their blistered exterior. The oshinko, with obvious aesthetic appeal, were additionally matched with different flavor profiles across the spectrum (spicy, sweet, vinegary, and briny), making for a lovely showcase of Japanese pickles

Next came the gobo chips served with spicy cod mayo. These chips were like French fries that used burdock root instead of julienned potatoes. The taste reminded me a mix of sweet potato fries but with a firmer, carrot-like). The spicy cod mayo complemented these very well -- a winning combination that brought out the flavor from the burdock root. Definitely worth trying!

Probably one of my favorite dishes of the evening were the takoyaki (octopus fritters) topped with bonito flakes, takoyaki sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise. The resulting design from the zigzagged mayonnaise made these little orbs look like bumble bees, and what bumble bees of flavor these were! They were perfectly fried with the ideal ratio of batter and chopped octopus meat (many times, there are hardly any chunks of octopus meat to warrant them being called takoyaki) which made these for very enjoyable bites.

We also ordered a few kushiyaki (skewers) by the piece -- from top to bottom were chicken, guyton (beef tongue), and kalbi (beef shortrib) served with togarashi seasoning. The skewers at Dojo Izakaya are of the purist approach (just enough seasoning and light marinade) where the flavors of the meat speak for themselves -- well-charred, evenly marinaded, and incredibly juicy. Be sure to order a few of these -- you'll be glad you did!

We shared another cup of sake, this time a junmai (pure sake with intense flavor and low fragrance) called Dark Sleeper, which was quite well-balanced in smoothness and strong flavor, making it our favorite out of the three we had that evening.

Our first selection from the meat section of the menu was the  buta kakuni (braised pork belly) with Japanese mustard. Thoroughly marinaded, the pork belly must have been braised for a lengthy time at a low temperature as it was so tender that the meat fell apart very easily.

One of favorite things to order at an izakaya (or from the cooked section of a Japanese menu) is hamachi kama (salt-grilled yellowtail collar), so imagine my excitement when it was offered at Dojo Izakaya. In each hamachi (yellowtail), there are only two (one collar per side), and it is the fattiest and juiciest part of the fish, typically grilled or broiled until the skin is crisp and the interior is just cooked through. At Dojo Izakaya, the preparation was no exception -- the meat was incredibly juicy and savory, simply salted with a squeeze of lemon juice. The two collars here had a very brilliant char to them without overcooking the meat. You better believe that Marcus and I scraped every last bit!

We also tried the Hamburg steak (pure ground beef steak with housemade demi-glace sauce topped with a fried egg). The homemade sauce is definitely one of the more notable things of this dish, which paired really well with the perfectly fried egg -- great combination of textures and tastes.

The last dish of the evening was the katsu sando (pork cutlet sandwich). The bread-to-pork ratio seemed to be a bit off -- white sandwich bread might not have been the best choice for the thick-cut slabs of pork cutlet, as it made it difficult to eat without the sandwich contents slipping/falling out. While this wasn't my favorite dish execution-wise, I appreciated the idea of it.

Findings: Marcus and I had a fantastic time trying out the wide spectrum of dishes from the varied yet well-curated menu at Dojo Izakaya along with the delicious offerings of cup sake. While the space might appear to be small, I appreciated the cozy atmosphere the restaurant creates for its patrons with thoughtful fare and drink, inspiring intimate and lively conversations. Our server Lindsay made the visit that much more enjoyable with her cheerful and welcoming demeanor. So if you find yourself in the East Village with your closest friends, a detour to Dojo Izakaya is a must for quality and authentic Japanese eats and sake at reasonable prices -- I know we'll be back soon for sure!

Price point: $8-15 for each small plate, $3-5 for each skewer, $10-18 for each cup sake.

(Dislosure/Disclaimer: This meal, excluding alcohol, was compliments of Dojo Izakaya. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of the restaurant's proprietors.)

--July 24, 2015

Dojo Izakaya
38 Avenue B
New York, NY 10009

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dinner | Thirty Acres

Thirty Acres
We found ourselves across the Hudson River three Fridays ago for a much needed date night at Thirty Acres. The restaurant had been sitting on my mind for quite some time (hat tip to Mr. Ryan Sutton during his tenure at Bloomberg), and we finally just decided to go for it. It was a super quick PATH ride to Grove Street in Jersey City (merely two stops from the Christopher Street station), so for the ambivalent New Yorker, no need to worry too much over logistics.

Inside Thirty Acres
I quickly fell in love with the understated marriage of multicolored woods and industrial funk.

Thirty Acres bar
Chef Kevin and Alex Pemoulie, the husband-and-wife team behind this very Brooklynesque watering hole, actually began a Kickstarter campaign to open Thirty Acres back in December 2011. While the initial fundraising goal was $10,000, the campaign was met with such enthusiasm that thirty days later, it had raised a little over $18,000. With his experience as a chef at Momofuku Noodle Bar, Chef Pemoulie wanted to open Thirty Acres not only to "looking to showcase all that New Jersey has to offer" but to also continue developing Jersey City "by providing for our neighborhood locally grown and prepared products."

Menu at Thirty Acres
What I love about Thirty Acres is that it keeps the menu on its website as current as possible. Look at the flavor combinations that incorporate lovely seasonality with inspiring creativity!

Orange and pink wine
As expected, the wines were categorized by color and arranged by increasing gradient (i.e., white to red). But what particularly intrigued Marcus about the wine list here was the unusual inclusion of orange as a category. While there was pink to indicate the restaurant's selection of rosés, we both had never heard of orange wine or any wines that were necessarily orange colored, so we weren't sure what that meant (Update: In the same fashion that red wine is fermented red grapes with skins, orange wine is the same, only with green grapes). There was only one way to find out, and that was how Marcus decided he would try the 2011 Bloomer Creek gewürztraminer from the Finger Lakes. I went with the other "non-traditional" shade and had the 2013 Channing Daughters refosco rosé from Bridgehampton, New York. Both were lovely and very fruit-forward (with the rosé a tad bit sweeter) -- perfect for the summer evening we were having.

We pretty much decided to share everything (with the exception of the second course dishes where we just stole a few bites from each other's plates), so here comes the rundown of what we ate.

Chilled squid
First up with the chilled squid with chili shrimp vinaigrette, cilantro, and peanuts. Holy mackerel was this so incredibly good! I don't think I've ever had the pleasure of noshing on such tender pieces of chilled squid before. Not only was the texture and consistency done perfectly, the Asian-inspired flavors weren't any less punchy.

Chilled squid
Here's a peek of what the dish looked like under the cilantro leaves. The flavors were bold with lots of heat from the vinaigrette and rounded out with the addition of peanuts. And man, the generous portion was shocking to say the least. I've been dining in New York City for way too long considering how spoiled I felt with each and every dish at Thirty Acres. Don't worry -- not one morsel of the squid was wasted.

Raw sea scallop
Next we had the raw sea scallop with apricots, sugarplums, and tomatillos. Again, crazy me was expecting a crudo dish like this have the scallop diced into small cubes and plated in those Asian soup spoons (like a ceviche). I was pleasantly surprised to have my expectations thrown out the window to bear witness to such a colorfully playful dish. This is where you really see how Chef Pemoulie truly highlights the gorgeous produce of the summer season. I've never had a sugarplum before (could only guess what they might taste like from that number from The Nutcracker, haha), and it was ripened with a subtle sweetness to it. Pair it with the slightly denser apricots and the thin slices of tomatillos, and you have a striking combination with the scallops. While there seemed to be so much that could overwhelm the scallops, the overall dish remained very light, capturing the delicate essence of the scallop with these beautiful flavors.

The next dish that followed were shishito peppers with peaches, guanciale, and basil. I was interested to see how the flavor compilation would work here as it was something I had never really tasted before. Even Marcus teased me for really, really wanting to try them, but then again, would you trust someone who isn't very fond of peppers? I insisted that he just give them a try, only to get an answer, "Don't worry -- I'll just eat the bacon part." Well, not without a fight!, I thought. Instead, I just smirked to myself, knowing that he'd be proven wrong pretty soon.

Shishito peppers
The salty-savory crunch from the guanciale, sweet crisp from the slices of peach, and the juicy, mild heat from the shishitos made for a very satisfying combination. Marcus finally relented to my insisting on just trying a bite, pleasantly surprised at how spot-on of a dish it was. I have since been inspired to try to make these at home (just gotta figure out where to find those little shishitos...:P). Needless to say, we gobbled this up to the last morsel.

Our next wines consisted of a cabernet franc for me (2012 Aha Wines "Bebame" from El Dorado, California) and a riesling for Marcus (2011 Boundary Breaks "No. 198 Reserve" from Finger Lakes, New York). Both went really well with the following courses.

Spaghetti nero
For the secound course, I opted for the spaghetti nero with cherry tomatoes, mussels, chili flakes, and oregano -- I mea, how could I have resisted another foray into the world of squid ink pasta? With the chili flakes really packing in a solid spicy punch to the course (so be prepared!), the pasta was a nice bitey al dente and the mussels a delicious tender bite. While it was a well-executed dish, I would have to say that it might be my least favorite (that is, if I had to pick one) of the evening just because it wasn't something that wowed me like the other dishes had.

Corn gnocchi
Marcus went for the corn gnocchi with shrimp, basil, lime, and jalapeño. I had been under the impression that when you see gnocchi on a menu, it would almost always be the soft pillows of savory potato. So when the plate arrived to our table, I was quite taken aback by the appearance of said gnocchi. The exterior looked fried, boasting a crisp, golden brown shell -- pretty much resembling tater tots. After Marcus sampled a bite of each component, he motioned that I do the same. The inside of the gnocchi had a really sweet and savory fill of juicy white corn (which I assume comes straight from the Garden State) -- simply perfection with the generous pieces of shrimp and heat from the jalapeño. While we still remain a bit ambivalent about the frying technique used on the gnocchi here, the flavors layered here really captured the essence of summer very well.

For the main course, we shared the poussin (i.e., young chicken) with broccoli and spicy lobster broth. I've always been a fan of simple preparations (good ol' salt and pepper), and the poussin at Thirty Acres is no exception. It was simply roasted (at least from what I could see and taste), so the showstopping punch came from the spicy lobster broth. The broth was super concentrated, seeping the broccoli with the bold flavors from lobster shells and heat from chili flakes. Although I totally understand what this dish was trying to do, I felt that the broth was a tad over-salted and would've definitely been less intense if it was slightly diluted. However, since the flavors were spot-on, I still very much enjoyed all the elements together that dressed a perfectly cooked poussin.

Kevin's Mom's lemon bars
For dessert, Marcus tried Kevin's Mom's lemon bar, and we came to the conclusion that this dessert is better to be shared than to be tackled on solo. It is a very tart lemon bar, making it a great dessert to be enjoyed after three bites. Any more might be a little too much.

Peach sorbet
I had a single scoop of fresh peach sorbet, which tasted like the ripest summer peach, making for a lovely way to end a fantastic meal.

Findings: All in all, I was thoroughly impressed with the dishes we had at Thirty Acres -- to find cuisine of this caliber just a stone's throw away (okay well, across the Hudson) was both refreshing and hopeful. The seamless fusion of the Garden State's seasonal bounty with Chef Kevin Pemoulie's odd yet perfect flavor combinations weaves its way through the restaurant's fun menu, where you're bound to find something that'll wow and satisfy (ahem, the shishito peppers with guanciale and peaches come to mind). So don't be scared to venture from the Boroughvilles of NYC, or else you'll miss an awesome find like this one.

Price point: $11-14 for each first course; $16-17 for each second course; $28 for each main course; $5-6 for each dessert; $13-14 for each glass of wine.

--August 1, 2014

Thirty Acres
500 Jersey Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Toasts | four years

© Photograph by Alice Gao Photography

I can hardly believe that I've been with this crazy awesome guy for four years.

Time -- it's quite a remarkable thing; it can fly by so quickly before your eyes, yet it can feel static at times, permitting us as human beings to live entirely in any and all given moments. I always experience that surreal feeling whenever I think about our relationship and how long it has been. There are times when I feel as if the day we'd met had only just happened the day prior (and that same spark is still ever-present) while similarly feeling as if we've known each other way longer than four years, possibly forever. To share that level of comfort with someone is so special, and I am thankful for it every day. 

As a young girl, I had always dreamt of what it would be like to have someone as your other (read: better) half. I wondered how it would happen; when it would happen; and more importantly, who this mysterious someone would be. Would he be cute (read: would he think I was cute)? Would he choose me in the same way I would choose him? Would he love me for all of my quirks (read: would have have similar ones)? Would we inspire each other to be the best version of ourselves? Would he know exactly how to hold my heart?

Fast-forward through the days of being unlucky in and wronged by love; of lost confidence and bruised self-esteem; and of endless longing to feel a little less impatient and alone. The singular word that brought us together -- crepuscular (i.e., of, relating to, or resembling twilight) -- is a constant reminder that having faith in where this life will take you can be tough at first but can be so rewarding down the road. The stars aligned for me on that fateful day four Aprils ago, when I received my first e-dating match (you know, for this guy named Marcus, hehe). Funny enough, it happened seemingly like twilight -- that destined meeting -- and suddenly, it was hook, line, and sinker. He was indeed cute then as he is now; loves me for all (errr, maybe most, haha) of my quirks; inspires me to be a better person each and every day; and holds my heart exactly how it should be held -- with warmth, care, and purpose.

Of the albums I've had on repeat lately, Sara Bareilles (who is no stranger to be mentioned here at Four Tines) and her most recent album The Blessed Unrest is one that truly resonates with me. There was one song in particular that got me right in the heartstrings, entitled "I Choose You". I'd recently discovered that she as a songwriter wanted to explore the idea of "creating space for love" -- an idea sparked incidentally by a fan who came up to her after a show and shared, "My wife and I love your music, but your music is always so sad, and we had nothing to play at our wedding..." So she didn't want write a song "simply to fill that niche" but to think about what a song like that would sound like and how she could manifest that feeling and sentiment inside herself. To her, that meant "a love note to the other half of your heart":

There was a time when I would have believed them--
If they told me you could not come true,
Just love's illusion;
But then you found me and everything changed,
And I believe in something again--

My whole heart
Will be yours forever;
This is a beautiful start
To a lifelong love letter--

Tell the world that we finally got it all right--
I choose you;
I will become yours and you will become mine--
I choose you, I choose you;


We are not perfect,
We'll learn from our mistakes--
And as long as it takes,
I will prove my love to you;
I am not scared of the elements,
I am under-prepared, but I am willing--
And even better,
I get to be the other half of you--

While I love the playfulness of the song and how her message and lyrics are strung together so seamlessly, that last line really is the real tearjerker for me because it rings so true. I get to be the other half of someone else, and if I get to spend the rest of my life being this someone's lobster, rock, soup snake, and heart-holder -- then I will know that I've lived my life wholeheartedly.

Happy Anniversary to Marcus, the guy I will always choose indefinitely -- I love you more than words can say, and I look forward to celebrating another wonderful year with you!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dessert | Sprinkles Cupcake ATM (NYC)

On Saturday, Jess and I found our way to the latest queuein' craze in New York City: the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. Currently residing right next to the NYC flagship location, the Cupcake ATM opened two weeks ago, and we both definitely were fascinated not only by its novelty, but also about how it worked. I mean, c'mon! How can you not be curious about it?

By the time we got there on Saturday afternoon around 4 PM, there was already a line past the entrance of Sprinkles Cupcakes, but in the grand scheme of things (for a NYC line, that is), it wasn't bad at all.

Lo' and behold -- the Cupcake ATM in the flesh:

We made sure not to read too much about it so that when it came to be our turn, we'd be magically surprised. For all we knew, there was someone behind the contraption, manning the ATM orders. Boy did we underestimate the Cupcake ATM! You can see lit-up shelves lined with individually boxed cupcakes behind the translucent storefront, which incidentally holds up to 760 treats (cupcakes, cookies, etc.). The machine is continuously restocked throughout the day and evening with baked goods no more than several hours old and close to 20 flavors at a time. The best part? Just like a financial institution's ATM, the Cupcake ATM is open 24 hours, seven days a week!

After waiting about 20-25 minutes (and contemplating this month's flavors), it was finally our turn! The screen asks you to press it to begin, and it prompts you to select a cupcake flavor. I believe you can select up to four cupcakes per transaction (as the first iteration of the machine in Beverly Hills was upgraded from one to four at a time). After you select your desired flavor(s), credit card payment is requested, and then the magic begins.

The Cupcake ATM screen shows an internal camera of the ATM at work -- essentially the robotic requisition of your desired cupcake(s). So cool, right?! Wait, there's more!

Once the Cupcake ATM has done its handy work (a minute or so), the dispenser door opens up, and voilà -- a literal cupcake withdrawal!

Me with the ridiculously cute Cupcake ATM!

Jess withdrew the last dark chocolate (Belgian dark chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate frosting), which is always a go-to for us. She also got a second flavor -- coconut (Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with coconut cream cheese frosting).

As for me, I withdrew two flavors of the month -- Cuban coffee (pictured above: Belgian light chocolate cake with powerful coffee frosting and notes of cinnamon and cocoa) and lemon meringue (graham cracker-lined fragrant lemon cake filled with lemon curd topped with toasted meringue) as well as triple cinnamon (lightly spiced buttermilk cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting dusted with cinnamon sugar), which is now my new favorite.

Until next time...

Findings: While many people may remain skeptical about the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, I think the idea is ingenious, and the execution embodies this ingenuity in its streamlined and awe-striking design. Talk about satisfying the late-night munchies with a moist and perfectly sweet treat from Sprinkles at any hour of the night! And like you may pay a convenience fee at a monetary ATM, there is a 75-cent premium added to the bakery's per-cupcake price for all cupcakes withdrawn from the Cupcake ATM -- which makes total sense given the extra packaging and added convenience. The novelty of the Cupcake ATM reignites a familiar excitement to a city where the cupcake has come and gone in the last decade. Highly recommended to impress out-of-towners (or even for someone who needs to renew his or her faith in the gratification received from enjoying a dessert as simple as a cupcake, especially one dispensed from an ATM for cupcakes)! I would say it's definitely something to try once yourself -- you'll be glad you did. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with the flagship bakery (see reviews here and here) right next door.

Price point: $4.25 for each ATM-withdrawn cupcake (originally $3.50 from bakery)

--April 5, 2014

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM
780 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10065

Friday, March 14, 2014

Toasts | in memoriam of Baba, iii


First slice of my homemade malted chocolate pecan pie.

With another year gone by, here I've baked another pecan pie on Pi(e) Day for my father, my 爸爸 (Baba), keeping my own vow to honor the memory of him and his passing on this day with the celebratory consumption of a (pecan) pie, a play on words that still rings with me today. I can't seem to find the right words to express my emotions today as my heart is especially heavier than it has ever been in the past. So I wish to wholly express my grief, my release, my loss, and my memories with this labor of love -- baking a pecan pie from scratch. It is undoubtedly a personal testament to patience and discipline, two humble virtues my father held in a very high regard. Wherever he may be, I hope he is proud of the woman I've become and the person I wish and strive to be, as I'm proud to say I'm his one and only daughter. Miss you and love you always, 爸爸.

Me with my parents at my cousin's wedding, July 1994.


I'm a huge fan of this fantastic bakery in Brooklyn (my personal favorite is the salted caramel apple pie), so when its two sibling owners, Emily and Melissa Elsen, released their cookbook last year, I immediately made sure to get my hands on a copy. It is a fantastic cookbook on mastering the art and techniques of pie making and includes the recipe for the malted chocolate pecan pie that I decided to take a stab at for this dedication.


It was a six-hour operation (not including the crust's overnight preparation), and while the pie isn't a perfect picture, boy was it delicious (especially a la mode with vanilla bean ice cream). Here's to you 爸爸, thank you for all that you taught me, for always supporting me, and for being the bravest man I've ever known.

Please enjoy a slice of pie (or tart!) today in memory of my father on Pi(e) Day! :) Thank you for letting me share this special dedication on this day. Happy Pi(e) Day!

 P. S. I've included the recipe below for those interested! :)

Emily & Melissa Elsen: The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, 2013

"All-Butter Crust" with "Partial Prebaking" (pp. 207, 68)
Single-Crust Pie

The Crust
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½  teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ cup ice

The Egg White Glaze (for Partial Prebaking)
1 egg white (Note: Save egg yolk for the pie filling!)
1 teaspoon water

pastry blender
bench scraper (or spatula)
pie pan (preferably glass)
pastry brush
pie weights (or beans)
rimmed baking sheet

Prepping the Dough
Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and coat the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-sized pieces of butter remain. a fewer larger pieces are okay; be careful not to overblend).

Combine the water, cider vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture over the flour mixture, and mix it and cut it in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. 

Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary, to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.

Partially Prebaking the Dough
Have your crust rolled, crimped, and rested in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When it's fully chilled, use a fork to price all over the bottom and sides, 15 to 20 times. This step, called docking, helps eliminates the air bubbles that can form when the dough is exposed to heat and also prevents the crust from shrinking. Place the crust in the freezer.

"Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie" (p. 188)
9-inch, Single-Crust Dessert Pie

Excerpt: Barley malts are an unexpected ingredient for pie making. We add barley malt syrup to our pecan pie along with some dark chocolate... Our neighbor Brooklyn Homebrew is a great online source for it. We use their Briess Traditional Dark Liquid Malt Extract.

All-Butter Crust for a 9-inch single-crust pie, partially prebaked

The Filling
1½ cups pecan pieces (Excerpt: We like to use chopped pecans rather than whole; it creates a better balance of nuts to crust and filling. It's also easier to cut and easier to eat.)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (55% cacao)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup barley malt syrup
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup sour cream
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk

rimmed baking sheets
sauce pan, medium
wire rack

Prepping the Filling
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To toast the pecans, spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl large enough to rest on the rim of the saucepan, above the water. Melt the butter and chocolate over this double boiler, whisking occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar, barley malt syrup, salt, cinnamon, and ginger, and stir well. Mix in the sour cream, then the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, stirring briskly after each addition. Stir in the cooled toasted pecan pieces.

Place the prebaked pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet and pour int he filling. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 52 to 57 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, about 35 minutes through baking. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly and the center is slightly firm to the touch but still has some wobble (like gelatin). Be careful not to overbake or the custard can separate; the filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days or at room temperature for 2 days.


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