Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie with a Shortening-free Pie Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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(Photo of the slice of pie above is from Parsley, Sage & Sweet)

I am not much of a baker.  I almost never eat sweets & I live alone so – making a pie or a cake just means 1) I get fatter and 2) lots of whatever I made gets thrown away.  The exceptions to this rule are birthdays & holidays.

Last Christmas, I made a Chocolate Cinnamon Cannoli Tart but if you click that link there you will find out how that tart met a violent & untimely end.


This year, I worked all day on this barely tweaked adaptation of Parsley, Sage & Sweet‘s multi-layered pie & was petrified it would meet a similar fate or that I would drop it getting out of the car or tripping on steps.  I am happy to report that the pie made it all the way to the dessert table but before that happened – this happened:


That is to say, we ate a LOT of food & consumed even more wine so that, by the time we were cutting into the pie, I was holding one eye closed to keep from seeing two of them.  Two pies, that is.  I was pie-eyed when it was pie time and, thus, took exactly zero photos of the pie once it got sliced up.  So, I have no lush portraits of the interior of this baby but I can tell you – it was delicious.

I can also tell you it took a long time to make but that was due to a number of factors.  1) I made the crust from scratch.  You need not do that.  You could use a ready made crust.  2) I roasted my Halloween pumpkin & made the pumpkin pie layer with fresh pumpkin puree.  This is a very easy step to skip.  Just use some unsweetened, canned pumpkin.  Easier still, use canned pumpkin pie mix.  3) each layer needs to chill, even freeze, before the next layer can be added or it will all blend together.  It will all get blended in your mouth when you eat it so taste is not the concern.  But, if the layers blend, it won’t look like what Parsley, Sage & Sweet achieved up there.

You can easily eliminate any of the layers without any great loss to the overall deliciousness of this pie – so – give it a try – why don’t you!


Shortening-free Pie Crust


1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup VERY COLD butter

4-6 TBS VERY COLD water


In a large bowl, mix the flour & salt.  Slice the butter up & work it into the flour.  I did this in my food processor by pulsing it until it was all crumbly.  Little chunks of butter in the dough are okay.  Add the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together.  Don’t add so much that it gets sticky or gooey.  Wrap in plastic wrap & chill while you prepare the pie layers.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, roll the dough out on a heavily floured surface.  Flour the top of the crust if it begins to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out a few inches larger than your DEEP pie dish.  Carefully fold the crust in half twice so it looks like a pie wedge.  Put it in your pie dish & unfold.  Trim the edges if you like & crimp the rim with your fingers.  Put this in the freezer & heat your oven to 400 degrees.  From Parsley, Sage & Sweets:

When oven temperature is at 400 F, remove the pie shell from the freezer and line the pie crust with a large sheet of lightly buttered aluminum foil, buttered side down, covering the edge of the crust so that it doesn’t get too brown. Fill the lined crust with pie weights, dried beans, or raw rice. Bake the pie crust for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the crust well with a fork and bake the crust for another 7 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden, but the crust is not fully baked. Cool the pie crust on a wire rack while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.


Chocolate, Cheesecake, Pumpkin & Pecan Layered Pie

Chocolate Layer

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream

Cheesecake Layer
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 2/3 cups unsweetened fresh or canned pumpkin puree (If using fresh – simply cut up & seed a pumpkin.  Roast at 350 for about 45 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender to a fork.  Puree with just as much water as you need to get it blended smooth.)
1 cup heavy cream (you can use evaporated milk, if you prefer)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Pecan Pie Topping
1 cup mix of whole and coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter


Prepare the crust or use a pre-made one.  My crust was a tad under-cooked – as you see in these photos but it cooked up fine when all was said & done.

If making fresh pumpkin puree – follow directions HERE.  Set aside.

Melt the chocolate & heavy cream in a double boiler (or a smaller pan set in a larger pan with boiling water in it).  When blended & smooth – pour this into the par baked pie crust.  Put this in the freezer for about 20 minutes.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar, then add vanilla and 1 egg. Beat mixture until smooth.

Next, pour the cream cheese mixture on top of the chilled chocolate layer, spread evenly, then freeze for about 15 -20 minutes.


In the mean time, in a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, heavy cream, the 2 lightly beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix thoroughly until uniform.

Remove the pie shell with cream cheese from the freezer and pour the pumpkin mixture on top of it. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes.


Combine the eggs, sugars, melted butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl.  Stir in pecans.  Remove pie from freezer and carefully spoon the pecan layer over the pumpkin layer.


Place pie on the middle rack of your preheated oven.  Cover edges of crust with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield if browning too quickly, but you will eventually have to cover it  to prevent excess browning some time toward the end.  Keep checking every 20 minutes.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for about 60 to 75 minutes.  It really depends on your oven.  The the pecan pie topping should be dark and bubbling a bit.

And – once you’ve done all this work – be sure to get some good photographs of the results before succumbing to your alcoholic desires!  You will want to remember this baby!


Slow Cooker New Years Day Spicy Hoppin’ John (vegetarian – vegan) with Red Cargo Rice


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Follow @celisemccarthy

I had a kinda tough year & an even harder holiday season.  Not as bad as some – but certainly bad enough for me to want things to take a turn for the better.  Hoppin’ John is a traditional southern dish, typically served on New Years Day to bring a prosperous new year.  Here is WIKIPEDIA’S explanation.  I didn’t add peas to mine but you certainly can & I love the idea of serving each bowl with a coin beneath it to ramp up the good fortune.

This is CRAZY easy to make & tastier than you might guess – even without the bacon or ham hock.  Still – if you like these things – feel free to add them.  I made these in a slow cooker with dried beans but these can be done very quickly on your stove top with canned beans.  Also – I made a shitload – mainly because I added too many chipotle peppers to my first batch – so I doubled the batch to lessen the heat.  I will post the recipe here for a single pound of dried beans, however.  If you use canned – use two pounds or so.

Also – I used red cargo rice because I already had some made & because I enjoy the crunch it has (and the extra fiber!) but a long grained white rice is traditional  – and, arguably, prettier.   I buy the red cargo rice at my local Thai market.  I imagine it can be found on Amazon – as everything can be had on Amazon these days – but do not feel pressure to use this specific rice.    White rice, instant rice, basmati, brown – whatever.


New Years Day Spicy Hoppin’ John (vegetarian – vegan) with Red Cargo Rice

2 cups uncooked rice of your choice

1 lb dried black eyed peas (or 2 lbs canned – drained & rinsed)

1 medium onion – diced

3-6 garlic cloves – diced

4 celery stalks – diced

1 red bell pepper – diced

1 7oz can diced green chilies (optional)

2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo – diced (more or less – to your taste)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS olive oil

S&P to taste


2 tomatoes – diced

4 scallions sliced

fresh Italian parsley – chopped

Fresh cilantro – chopped

1 small red onion – diced

Avocado – sliced

Tabasco (or other hot sauce)

COINS (Pennies – silver dollars?  Your call) – for placement under each serving dish


Cook your rice according to the package instructions.

If you are using dried black eyed peas – bring a pot of water to a rapid boil.  Add the black eyed peas & boil for ten minutes.  Turn off heat, cover & let stand for an hour.  Drain & RINSE WELL.



In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil & saute the garlic, onion, red pepper and celery until the vegetable are soft.

The rest of the steps are the same whether you are going stove top with canned beans or slow cooker with dried beans.  The only difference is the time involved and the fact that the canned beans will need almost no water added.  The slow cooker beans will need a good 5 hours.  The stove top version could – arguably – be eaten almost immediately (but the longer it sits simmering – the better).

If you are using bacon – fry it up & the chop it.  If using a ham hock – I don’t know.  Do you add it to the black eyed peas already cooked?  I imagine so.

Anyway – once your vegetables are sauteed, you simply combine the already partly cooked beans with the vegetables, chipotle, green chilies, cumin, baking soda and S&P with (in the case of dried beans) 4 cups of fresh water (not the water used to cook the beans) – or in the canned bean instance – maybe 1 cup of water.  Stove top – heat until boiling, then lower heat & simmer covered until you are ready to eat.

For you slow cookers – I set my cooker at high, covered it & stirred the contents occasionally.  The beans were pretty tender after 5 hours.  In fact – they could probably take more time if you felt like it but I feared they would begin to break up & look like an ugly mush.   Taste – season with S&P – serve over rice with whichever garnishes you selected.

Pour a deep glass of wine or beer or bubbly & embrace the hair of the dog that bit you last night.