Recently had the chance and luck? (find out below) to try a pie from the now famous Carlo's Bakery of Hoboken, NJ aka TLC's Cake Boss. If you haven't heard of it, you need to invest in some modern amenities like television and the internet. As it stands, the place has definitely been making it's mark on the mind of the general public via TV and as such the line outside of it during all open hours can be ridiculous. Apparently 2 hours is not unheard of. Let me state for the record, I do not have a sweet tooth and thus would NEVER wait on said line by choice. I do however enjoy food (which includes dessert). Luckily a family member had an "in", in true Soprano's fashion...ok, not really. Their office has some type of corporate connection and they just put in an order and it was delivered as some sort of holiday promotion...HAPPY THANKSGIVING and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
What pie was I able to get onto my discerning palate? Chocolate Pecan Pie. Now for me, I've never found a Pecan Pie I rolled my eyes in orgasmic tasting pleasure for. Apparently there are MANY ways to make Pecan Pie (31 Recipes on www.baking.com (landolakes) and 187 hits on www.foodnetwork.com). I also think I was told once that in the South there are two things that are never made the same in any house; Fried Chicken and Pecan Pie. Anyway, historically, every Pecan Pie I've tried is too sweet. Every single one. Some moreso than others. I am talking "God, that's sweet!" all the way up to "I believe I need to invest in dentures" levels of sweet in that weird mush below the crusty pecans. I've found that the mush overwhelms the general nuttiness and base flavors that I would enjoy. There are definitely some that look for the next gap tooth creating dessert. I am not among them. So with a general lack of interest I cut myself a small slice and dropped it on my plate. Uncaring of the mix of cranberry sauce, gravy, pancit (Filipino noodles), roasted suckling pig and gravy left on my plate...what?...it was Thanksgiving people!...So I dug my fork into a small sliver of what I expected to be too sweet and to generally be unimpressed with (especially since I drink Hater-ade with a capital "H" and therefore subconsciously was building up my general dislike of Carlo's/Cake Boss products as the fork moved closer to my mouth).
Initial thoughts? "Holy SHIT that's good!". Follow up thoughts? "I'm getting a second piece!". Third thoughts? Time to spend some time with this newfound joy of Chocolate Pecan Pie. If you actually read the lead up you know my history, however brief, with Pecan Pie. This was a completely different story. Visually the chocolate changes the average Pecan Pie. At first glance it looks like the base ingredients are lightly singed (except the crust, which is not chocolate-ed...still the basic light butter crust). It is clearly not burned. It is that fine chocolate many of us love. The flavor that arrives and rules is Cocoa. To me there is a difference between chocolate and cocoa. Chocolate to me has a very smooth richness of flavor I associate with Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almond, Cadbury's Fruit and Nut, Hershey's Symphony or Europe (childhood associations maybe). Cocoa is a deeper and rougher taste that is seemingly unrefined but more original...or something. When making hot chocolate with Cocoa if you add too much it gets bitter due to the heavy notes. Too little and it just tastes like lightly flavored milk (if you don't make Hot Chocolate with milk, we can't be friends). The right amount makes all the difference. Carlo has got it just right. I mean it. Spot on. The cocoa seems to eat up all that extra sweetness that I dislike. And it does so thoroughly. The pie is in no way bitter. The layer of pecans on the top isn't too crusty or sticky. I've definitely had Pecan Pies that stuck to my teeth like chewed hard candy...not a good look. The layer beneath, where most of the chocolate is concentrated (though the flavor does evenly permeate the pie) isn't too heavy or too sloppy. In fact, it is lighter than I have generally experienced and none too sweet, as per my liking. All-in-all a high quality pie excellently pulled together by Chocolate (or in my opinion Cocoa). Would I try it again? In a heartbeat. Would I wait hours in line for it...for this...maybe I'd find a slow day and wait less than an hour (there's a rumor going around that locals don't have to wait on line...let me know if you have the balls to try that one...so that I can ask you to get me some pies of course). Will I try other pies or desserts from Carlo's? If the others are equal to or surpass the Chocolate Pecan Pie, I sincerely hope so. Because that was some damn good pie. Not quite the O-face, but damn good.