Ancho Fudge Pie

| July 24, 2010 | 6 Comments

When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it’s not, mmmmmmmmmmm, boy. 

Jack Handey, on Saturday Night Live 

My first date with Ancho Fudge Pie was at the original Z’ Tejas Southwestern Grill on 6th Street in Austin, Texas, some time in the late 1980s. I can’t remember if “Southwestern Grill” was part of the name then, but that’s not important. 

Ancho Fudge Pie with Kahlúa Whipped Cream

About 10 years later I noticed that they had expanded beyond Texas. Lo and behold, they had opened a Z’Tejas in Columbia, Maryland, one of the early master-planned communities in the U.S. Pie heaven come home to me. The Maryland location is no longer on their website so I assume it bit the dust. They do, however, own and operate 10 restaurants in the Western United States, including one in Bellevue, Washington.  

I immediately began searching for their Ancho Fudge Pie recipe. It wasn’t difficult at all. Google it yourself and see how many pages pop up. I have noticed a discrepancy in the amount of softened, ground ancho chile. Even the Z’Tejas versions vary as little as ¾ teaspoons to 2 teaspoons, all the way to ¾ cup of the precious mild chile. 

I cannot remember what meal I ate before that splendiferous slice of chile-imbued chocolate-nut pie, but who cares? This prize alone was sufficient to send me home loving the whole experience. 

Ancho Fudge Pie with Kahlúa Whipped Cream
Adapted from the recipe on the website of Z’Tejas 

  1. 1 9-inch (25cm.) deep-dish, prepared pie crust.
  2. 2 large eggs
  3. ½ cup (120 ml.) all-purpose flour
  4. ½ cup (120 ml.) sugar
  5. ½ cup (120 ml.) brown sugar
  6. 1 cup (240 ml.) butter, unsalted
  7. ½ cup (120 ml.) pecans
  8. ½ cup (120 ml.) walnuts
  9. 1 cup (240 ml.) chocolate chips (although they don’t designate, I use semi-sweet chocolate)
  10. ¾ cup (180 ml.) ancho purée


  1. The recipe above is exactly as I took it from the Z’Tejas website some months ago. If you go there now, they list ¾ teaspoon (4 ml.) of chile purée.
  2. I always have pecans on hand so they double as a stand-in for the walnuts.
  3. If you want to take this over the top, use Dagoba Chocodrops in place of the semi-sweet chips.


To make ancho purée: 

Ancho chiles are dried poblanos. If your supermarket has an ethnic section for Mexican/Hispanic foods, you should look for them there packaged in cellophane. 

“In Mexican and southwestern cuisines, dried chiles are usually roasted and rehydrated before they are used. Unless your recipe outlines a different procedure, you can follow these general instructions: Stem and seed the chiles, then place them in a skillet, on a comal, or in a 250ºF (120ºC) oven and dry-roast them for three to four minutes. Shake them once or twice and be careful not to scorch them or else they will taste bitter. The chiles should then be added to water that has been heated to just below the boiling point - if it is boiling, the chiles will lose flavor. Use just enough water to cover the chiles and press them down with a lid. Allow them to sit for 20 minutes or until they are soft. At this point, you should taste the water to see if it is bitter, discarding if it is. The chiles can then be used as directed in the recipe.” 

Whole Dried Ancho Chiles

Chile cup open for seeding.

Roasting Chiles in a Comal

  • Roast briefly in a comal or dry skillet (see previous quote).
  • Rehydrate the chiles in hot water for about 20 minutes.
  • Drain and purée in a blender
  • Measure ¾ cup (180 ml.) of ancho purée
  • Reserve any leftover purée for another use. (Add to some mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs or a sauce.)

Assembling the pie: 

  • Melt butter and cool.
  • Toast the nuts in a 350° F (180ºC) oven for about 15 minutes. Do not burn or they will taste bitter.
  • Beat the eggs.
  • Mix in the flour, white and brown sugars until smooth.
  • Mix in the cooled butter.
  • Fold in the remaining ingredients and pour into the pie shell.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes in a 325°F (165ºC) oven.

Kahlúa Whipped Cream 

  1. 1 pint (475 ml.) heavy whipping cream
  2. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) Kahlúa
  3. ¼ cup (60 ml.) superfine or confectioner’s sugar

  • Chill bowl, beaters and cream in freezer for about 20 minutes.
  • Whip until cream is thickened and soft peaks appear.

My dates with this pie are not over. I have made it about 6 times and this one was the best. Before, I had scrimped on the ancho purée. This time I added the whole load of ¾ cup (180 ml.). Next time I want to experiment with adding a small amount of chipotle purée for a little more heat. 

Bon appétit 

— Charles

Tags: , , ,

Category: Desserts, Pie

About the Author (Author Profile)

Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities

Comments (6)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Charles,

    We are thrilled that our Ancho Fudge Pie has left such an impression on you. It is delicious and unique.


  2. Oh My! This sounds dangerous! But in a good way! I might to make a date with the pie ASAP!

  3. Yum, indeed! Had lunch at that original Z’Tejas on West 6th in Austin recently! Didn’t have this scrumptious dessert then, but have in the past! Back in the mid-’80s when flying often from Dallas to Austin on Friday evenings, another ‘frequent flyer’ was a lovely young woman who was the girlfriend of the founder. Don’t remember her name, but I think his name was Guy. That was just before they opened the first location on 6th! Just a bit of early history!

  4. Jeri Scott says:

    This is the most fantastic pie I have ever had. Pure decadence! Can’t wait to make it for my next get together. Charles and Victor…always a pleasure eating your food!!!

  5. Tina Martin says:

    Someone is not calling me to come over for the leftovers! I can be there in 10 minutes. Come on!!

  6. […] The complex flavors of chile peppers make them adaptable to so many dishes, from savory to sweet. The Mayan and Aztec cultures have combined chiles with chocolate for centuries. My first experience with that combination was with a slice of ancho fudge pie from Z’ Tejas in Austin, Texas. That was an epiphany that led to a search for the recipe. I succeeded, and you can read about that pie here. […]

Leave a Reply