When I was younger we used to have a forested path that went through the woods between our house and our neighbors house. Our neighbor had a daughter around my sisters age and I would always tag along with them to play in the woods. We used to climb trees and get lost in our backyards which stretched for acres and acres of forest land. We used to pretend we were characters in Anne of Green Gables or play “medicine man,” which involved picking wild berries & leaves and crushing them with rocks. I can’t imagine kids these days with their iPads and video games doing the same, but it made for an extremely memorable childhood. After long afternoons spent in the woods we used to head over to her house to have a snack. The best snack was a very special pie her mother used to bake. She used to call it “the willy wonka pie.” At such a young age, I hardly knew what was in it, but I knew I liked it. Whenever we used to go there I could smell that pie in the air and we would be exstatic to have a slice. It was always so delicious and a food memory I will never forget.
Almost 20 years later I still think about that pie. On a whim I googled “willy wonka pie” just to see if it actually existed. The only results were of blueberry pie recipes, I guess related to when Violet turns into a blueberry in the film. Maybe calling it “willy wonka pie” was her way of building our excitement. Recently that pie has been on my mind more than ever, and my foodie self decided to sit down and understand what exactly was in there. Frantically messaging my sister on whatsapp we pieced together our memories:
“…definitely some chocolate”
“…sweet & salty feel”
“…caramel gooey interior”
“…had to have nuts, either pecans or walnuts”
So I googled and googled and googled, putting together the best parts of different recipes for chocolate pies & tarts that I saw into my own concoction of a recipe. I made a cookie crust from the crumbs of some leftover vegan chocolate chip cookies made with coconut oil along with graham crackers & salted butter (not so vegan anymore). I knew the interior had to be soft so I used butter, corn syrup, a bit of flour, vanilla extract and brown sugar. And the nuts, I cracked about thirty walnuts to use in the filling.
As soon as that pie hit the oven, I knew I had nailed it. The smell was oh so familiar and comforting. Letting the pie cool for three hours was an impatient process as I just wanted to dig in. Eventually I did and it was delicious, the type of wholesome dessert I could eat forever. Gooey, nutty, buttery, chocolatey, but not too chocolatey melt in your mouth goodness reminiscent of my childhood.
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 chocolate (roughly chopped, I used a mix of bittersweet & milk)
1 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
Pre-bake your pie crust according to the recipe till golden brown.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter, eggs, vanilla, corn syrup, sugars & salt till combined (about two minutes). With the mixer on low gradually add the flour, chocolate & walnuts and mix till just combined. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and bake for 45-55 minutes till set. Let cool for three hours before slicing. Enjoy with confectioners sugar & whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.