Pecan pie is a favorite at Thanksgiving, and since I made two this year, you’re getting two recipes for the price of one! The first is a tried and true favorite, made for a work potluck – toasted pecan pie with cinnamon whipped cream. The other is a new and exciting recipe for my family, scouted out by my mother, Thanksgiving hostess extraordinaire – bourbon pecan pie.
Both recipes involve toasting pecans, which brings about a different flavor than using them raw. I like this first recipe because it uses a combination of raw and toasted pecans.
A key ingredient for most pecan pies (besides pecans) is corn syrup. A good amount of it – 1 to 2 cups, depending on the recipe. The point where I hear the glug-glug-glug of the corn syrup bottle is usually the point where I wish I was just blindly eating this pie, without knowing what went into it.
The crust for this one is a basic mixture of flour, cold butter, and water. I add in a little nutmeg for interest, but it’s probably not necessary because the filling is so rich and filling. I think I will stop wasting my nutmeg in the future. Although the recipe doesn’t call for pre-baking this crust, it can’t hurt – this year my filling oozed through the crust and made it difficult to remove from the pie dish.
This second pie has *just enough* bourbon to give interest and a little a grown-up guilty pleasure. For example, you can tell the kids in your family to back off, because this pie has alcohol and it’s for adults only!!! If you’re evil that way, I mean. Not that I know anybody who would do that.
I decided to follow this recipe faithfully the first time, because it was new, so now I can say with confidence that this crust recipe is wacked out. For one thing, I would not spend the money or effort on scraping fresh vanilla bean for the crust, because you can’t taste it anyway. It might be a great idea for a simple custard filling, but for pecan pie, no. I have also never seen a pie crust involving powdered sugar. This dough was very sticky to handle, and the filling oozed out of the tart pan (sad face). So next time, I’ll stick with the crust recipe for pie #1. I liked the size and shape of the tart pan vs. my 9″ glass pie dish though, so the jury is still out on that one… as long as the tart pan is placed on a cookie sheet, it will catch the ooze. And surprisingly, I was able to lift the bottom out of the pan with no problems.
All in all, I loved the filling for this pie. It uses less corn syrup, fewer eggs, and brown sugar vs. white. The heavy cream is an interesting addition that is supposed to give a custard-like texture, although it didn’t seem that way to me. My original idea for the decoration was to stack pecans all around the top, like this, but as soon as I started I realized 11″ diameter is big! So I lined the outer edge and stopped there. I was really happy with the end result. This is an elegant tart and highly recommended, with a few modifications.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
RECIPE #1 – Toasted Pecan Pie
3 cup pecans (about 10 oz), divided
6 large eggs
2 cup sugar
2 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted better, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350º
MAKE THE CRUST: Blend flour and salt in processor 10 seconds. Add butter; cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water; blend just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk.
Wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING: Coarsely chop 2 cups pecans and reserve. Spread 1 cup pecans on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven until nuts are aromatic and darker in color, about 12 minutes. Cool, then grind nuts finely in processor. Maintain oven temperature. Roll out crust on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round (crust will be thin).
Transfer crust to 10-inch-diameter pie dish. Fold overhang under, forming high-standing rim. Crimp edges decoratively. Freeze crust 20 minutes.
Whisk eggs in large bowl until frothy. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, salt, and ground toasted pecans; whisk until blended. Mix in chopped pecans. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is puffed and set (center may still move when dish is shaken), about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool at least 3 hours. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar and cinnamon until stiff peaks form. Cut the pie into wedges and serve with the whipped cream.
Cut pie into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.
RECIPE #2 – Toasted Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 large egg white
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
MAKE THE CRUST: In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Add the 1 1/4 cups of flour and the confectioners’ sugar, salt and vanilla seeds and beat at low speed until smooth. Beat in the egg white. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap; press into a 6-inch disk. Wrap up and freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch round. Ease the dough into an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; press it into the pan. Trim the overhanging dough and use it to patch any tears or holes. Freeze the tart shell just until firm, 10 minutes.
Line the dough with parchment paper and pie weights and bake for 20 minutes, until nearly set. Remove the weights and paper and bake for 20 minutes, until golden.
MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then chop the nuts. In a bowl, whisk the corn syrup, brown sugar, cream, eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Stir in the butter and pecans.
Set the tart pan on the baking sheet and set it in the oven. Scrape the filling into the tart shell and bake for about 35 minutes, until the custard is set and puffed; cover the edge with strips of foil if it’s browning too fast. Transfer to a rack to cool, then remove the ring and slide the tart onto a serving plate.
MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar and bourbon until stiff peaks form. Cut the tart into wedges and serve with the whipped cream.