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Tar Heel Pie | Brownie Pie

Brownie pie is known in some parts as tar heel pie. Whatever you care to call the recipe, it’s essentially a rich, gooey, chocolate fudge pie made from scratch. Store-bought just can’t compete.

This chocolate brownie pie, known in some parts as tar heel pie, seems to have been created expressly for folks who crave chocolate brownies so impossibly fudgy they’re simply too gooey to consume out of hand. Hence this pie, intended to be daintily attacked with a fork. No complaints here. Originally published March 19, 2016.Renee Schettler Rossi

Where Does the Name Tar Heel Pie comes from?

Good question. North Carolina, which claims ownership of the Tar Heel pie, is known as the Tar Heel State. Legend has it that the pie was dubbed it’s name due to the fact that North Carolina produces tar and pitch from its vast pine forests. This pie’s rich brownie filling is a subtle nod to the state’s thick and dark namesake resource. We’ll take brownie filling over tar and pitch any day.

Brownie Pie

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 4 H
  • Serves 8


  • For the crust
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces and chilled
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 oz), cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) pieces and chilled
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • For the brownie pie filling
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped


  • For the crust
  • 1. Dump the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process until combined, about 5 seconds. Toss in the shortening, scattering it evenly over the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Toss in the butter, again scattering it evenly, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Transfer to a bowl.
  • 2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the flour mixture. Reach for a rubber spatula and stir until the dough sticks together when you press it. If the dough does not come together, add the remaining 1 tablespoon water. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form it into a 4-inch disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to 2 days or freeze it for up to 1 month. If frozen, let the dough thaw completely on the counter before rolling it.)
  • 3. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up and soften slightly, about 10 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Loosely roll the dough around your rolling pin so the pin supports the dough, transfer the dough over a 9-inch pie plate, and gently unroll the dough onto the plate, letting the excess dough hang over the edge. Ease the dough in place in the pie plate by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while pressing it against the bottom and sides of the pie plate with your other hand.
  • 4. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Tuck the overhang under itself so that the folded edge is flush with the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the dough evenly around the edge of the pie plate using your fingers. Wrap the dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic and freeze until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
  • 5. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • 6. Line the chilled pastry in the pie plate with two 12-inch squares of parchment paper or a double layer of aluminum foil, covering the edges to prevent burning. Fill the pie plate with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice. Bake until lightly golden around thee edges, 18 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and parchment or foil, rotate the pie plate, and continue to bake until the center begins to look opaque and slightly drier, 3 to 6 minutes. Let cool completely, at least 1 hour.
  • For the brownie pie filling
  • 7. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (160°C).
  • 8. Microwave 2/3 cup chocolate chips and the butter in bowl, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until melted, 60 to 90 seconds total. Whisk in the oil and cocoa until smooth.
  • 9. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and salt until smooth and thick. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture just until incorporated. Stir in the flour and remaining 1/3 cup chocolate chips until just combined.
  • 10. Spread the pecans over the pastry in the pie plate, then pour the chocolate fudge batter over the top, using a spatula to smooth the surface. Bake the pie until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with thin coating of batter attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the pie cool on wire rack until barely warm, about 1 1/2 hours. Slice and serve. (The pie is best warm from the oven but it can be reheated, uncovered, in a 300°F (150°C) oven until warm throughout, 10 to 15 minutes.)

Brownie Pie Recipe © 2015 Editors of Cook’s Country. Photo © 2015 Joe Keller. All rights reserved. All recipes and photos used with permission of the publisher.

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