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Happy Birthday, Joan Baez!

Black Bottom Lemon Pie

A pie using seasonal ingredients of Winter. Per recipe notes by Emily Elsen & Melissa Elsen: "Meyer lemons are a particularly delicious and easy to find variety of lemon available during the dead of winter, when you really need to eat something life affirming. The richness of the dark chocolate layer on the bottom goes particularly well with the peppery, warm citrus flavor Meyer lemons offer. If you don't have Meyer lemons, you can use regular lemons, but the flavor won't be exactly the same." And per the side note: "If you have access to fresh mandarin oranges, this recipe is also excellent made with their juice. Reverse the lemon and orange quantities and reduce the sugar to taste, or by about ⅓ cup.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author From The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily Elsen & Melissa Elsen


  • 1-¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of butter and a pat of butter for buttering the pie pan
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate 70% cocoa, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1-⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice from 3 to 4 lemons
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • Finely grated zest of ¼ orange


  1. Make an all-butter crust using 1-¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour; ½ teaspoon kosher salt; 1-½ teaspoons granulated sugar; ¼ pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces; ½ cup cold water; 2 tablespoons cider vinegar; and ½ cup ice. Stir together the dry ingredients and add the butter pieces and coat with the flour mixture using a bench scraper or spatula. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly peas-size pieces of butter email Combine the water, cider, vinegar, and ice in a large measuring cup or small bow. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the ice water mixture, over the flour mixture, and mix and cut in with a bench scraper or spatula until it is fully incorporated. Add more of the ice water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using the bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining. Squeeze and pinch with your fingertips to bring all the dough together, sprinkling dry bits with more small drops of the ice water mixture, if necessary to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight, to give the crust time to mellow. Wrapped tightly, the dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 1 month.
  2. Roll out the pie crust and place it in the buttered pie pan. Crimp the outside edge of your pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Partially pre-bake the pie crust on a preheated baking sheet in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees F, for 20 minutes, on the middle rack of the oven. Prepare the crust by covering it completely, including the crimped edges, and put pie weights or dry beans in the pan, spread so they are concentrated more around the edge of the shell than in the center.
  4. Remove the pan and the baking sheet from the oven, lift out the foil and pie weights, and let the crust cool for a minute. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom and sides with a thin layer of egg white glaze (1egg white whisked with 1 teaspoon of water) to moisture proof the crust. Return the pan, on the baking sheet, to the oven's middle rack and continue baking for 3 more minutes. Remove and cool completely before filling.
  5. To make the ganache layer, bring ¼ cup of the heavy cream just to a boil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and pour in the chocolate pieces. Swirl the cream around to distribute and cover the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then whisk gently to combine. Scrape the ganache into the cooled pie shell and spread evenly over the bottom and halfway up the sides. Refrigerate the shell to set the ganache while making the filling. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt, and mix on medium speed until thick and all combined. Stir in the lemon and orange juices and zests and the remaining ½ cup heavy cream and blend well.
  7. Place the ganache-lined pie shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Strain the filling through a fine-mesh sieve directly into the pie shell, or strain it into a separate bowl and then pour it into the shell. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating 180 degrees when the edges start to set, 15 to 20 minutes through the baking. The pie is finished when the edges are set and the center is no longer liquid but still quite wobbly. Be careful not to overbake or the custard can separate. The filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2 to 3 hours. Serve slightly warm, at room temperature or cool.
  8. The pie will keep refrigerated for 2 days or at room temperature for 1 day.