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February 25, 2015

Recipe: Magpie's chocolate blackout pie

Recipes Magpie
Chocolate Blackout Cake Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

A slice of Magpie's chocolate blackout pie, served with a dollop of whipped cream.

Holly Ricciardi opened Magpie in September 2012 with the bet that pie is the new cupcake. 

"Everyone loves cupcakes -- don't get me wrong," she explains. "They're sweet; they're beautiful -- they're awesome. But if that's all you've got to offer? Well, that's a bummer, because pie is just as good."

Ricciardi talks about her pies as if they're alive and listening -- she doesn't describe them as "tasty" or "scrumptious"; instead, they're "humble" and "celebratory." She's also the gal whose eye goes right to the details -- God forbid you butcher a pie in the slicing process. She says she offers to personally slice to-go pies out of fear she'll later see them collapsed and jagged on Instagram.

"Sometimes I look at the pictures, and I'm just like, 'Did they even use a knife?'" she says.

Yes, Ricciardi is very serious about her down-to-the-last-crumb pie-making zealousness and her commitment to making pie a more attractive dessert.

"People associate pies with grandma in the kitchen, but I really think pie can be fun," she says.

So, perhaps out to prove that point, she concocted her chocolate blackout pie, which is about as adventurous and "fun" as a pie can get.

"I'm always looking for inspiration for a pie; sometimes, it's a cookie or a candy -- or, in this case, it's a cake. Blackout cake. I thought, 'Why don't we do blackout pie?'" she says. "It's like a dark, grown-up cream pie, made with a classic chocolate cake crumbled on top. ... It's a trifecta: If you love pie, pudding and cake, it's all coming in one bite. It's very comforting -- like reliving your childhood."

Ricciardi advises recipe-attempters make the chocolate cake a day ahead of time to allow it to more easily crumble; she also recommends using Valrhona cocoa and, as with any pie, allowing it an overnight stay in the fridge to set itself up.

Oh, and if you can help it, then please -- use a hot serrated knife before posting it to Instagram. If only for her sake.

The recipe, which is Magpie's Pie of the Month for March and can also be found in Magpie's upcoming cookbook (releasing in Fall 2015), is written out below.


Makes 1 (9-inch / 23-centimeter) pie

Pie Filling

1 9-inch pre-baked pie shell

2 1/2 cups / 480 milliliters whole milk

6 tablespoons / 40 grams Valrhona cocoa

2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

3/4 cup / 150 grams granulated sugar

1/4 cup / 30 grams cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon table salt

4 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups crumbled chocolate cake 

Whisk the milk, cocoa and powdered coffee together in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Keep warm over very low heat.

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a bowl. Add the yolks and whisk until smooth and pale. Immediately measure out 1 cup of the hot milk mixture and slowly add it to the yolk mixture, pouring in a thin stream and whisking constantly.

Turn the heat under the saucepan back up to medium. Slowly add the tempered yolks into the pan, pouring in a thin stream and whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to a pudding consistency and a few large bubbles rise to the surface, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Let cool until slightly warm, about 5 minutes, stirring often. 

Scoop the filling into the prepared pie shell, spreading evenly and smoothing the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Top with the crumbled cake, pressing gently into the surface of the filling. Serve.

Chocolate Cake

Makes 1 (8-inch / 20-centimeter) square cake

1/4 cup / 56 grams unsalted butter, plus additional for greasing baking dish

3/4 cup / 94 grams all-purpose flour, plus additional for flouring baking dish

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

6 tablespoons / 40 grams high-quality Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/2 cup / 118 milliliters brewed coffee

1/2 cup /120 milliliters whole milk

1/2 cup / 55 grams packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup / 100 grams granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) with a rack in the center. Butter and flour an 8-by-8-inch (20-by-20-centimeter) baking dish.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the coffee, milk and sugars, mixing until dissolved and combined. Whisk in the egg and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool to room temperature.