On Thanksgiving night, I received a text from my friend Patrick O'Boyle.
"I think this is epic. Like the guy that invented tiramisu in the 60s. This is a game changer."
I had no idea what he was talking about.
"The Cilento's answer to pumpkin pie," he responded to my string of question marks. Ever inspired by the ancestral home of his maternal family, he explained that he had invented a new dessert that was an ode to the flavors of Cilento; a fig, chestnut and chocolate pie in a pasta frolla crust.
Cilento is known for famous and rare white figs that are turned into luxurious confections. By late autumn, Cilento figs are turned into jams and marmalades, just as the chestnuts are ripening. A chocolate and chestnut pie is typical in the Vallo di Diano part of Cilento, but Patrick's addition of figs creates a magical balance of sweetness and richness.
Following Patrick's loose instructions, I tested for a more precise recipe and am quite stunned by the results. It is the most delicious pie I have ever tasted. It looks rustic and could likely be refined with a lattice crust or by blending the ingredients with an electric mixer rather than a fork as I did. I'm sure the presentation could be made more elegant, but nothing more is needed to enjoy this beautiful balance of rich and sweet, but not too sweet flavors.
If you love Southern Italy, I can't think of a better dessert for your holiday table.
Chestnut Chocolate & Fig Pie
For the crust, I recommend our friend Domenica Marchetti's pasta frolla recipe.
Ingredients for filling
9 ounces fig preserves, marmalade or jam
If you want to use Cilento figs, Gustiamo sells white fig confettura.
1.5 cups of chestnut puree
2.5 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Add the fig preserves to a bowl first, then mix in the chestnut puree which will be quite stiff. Use a fork to combine them together. When well integrated, add the cocoa powder and continue to combine all the ingredients with a fork and press out all lumps though there will be chunks of figs that may remain whole.
Place your pie crust into a 9 inch glass pie pan. Add the filling with a spoon and fold over the edges of the dough, pinching it closed with your fingers. The pie will look very rustic.
Place in the center of your oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let cool to room temperature and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.