Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is a deeply personal -- and for those of us who love it, nearly religious -- expression of baking. Whether it evokes memories of your grandma, a favorite Thanksgiving, or a hole-in-the-wall on Bourbon Street (which is the case for me), the deep nutty goodness of pecan pie seems capable of evoking deep emotions like few other desserts. Unless you just don't like pecan pie, in which case I'm very sorry for you.

I was recently asked for my own pecan pie recipe, and decided to share it here. Every recipe I've ever seen has the same few basic ingredients: corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, pecans. The differences come in nuances -- add bourbon or rum? Any brown sugar? Light or dark corn syrup? Whole pecans or chopped? The variation below is my favorite so far in my experimentations...yet it doesn't quite live up to my memory of the slice I had in that little joint on Bourbon Street...

Pecan Pie
1 prepared pie crust (use your favorite recipe)
1 egg + 1 tsp water, whisked (for brushing the crust)
2 c. pecan halves
3 large eggs
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar (I like dark brown)
1 c. light corn syrup
5 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 T. bourbon or whiskey (use good stuff)
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 5-8 minutes, rotating and jiggling the baking sheet partway through. Do not let them burn. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow to cool until able to touch.

In the mean time, prepare the pie shell and line a glass pie pan, fluting the edges just above the rim of the pan. Brush lightly all over with the egg mixture.

Whisk together all remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, starting with the eggs and sugar, then adding the rest.

Break the pecans into pieces and scatter on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour the egg-sugar mixture over the pecans.

Baking time will vary based on your oven and the initial temperature of the ingredients -- may range from 35 or 40 minutes up to an hour. Test by gently nudging the pan. When it's done, the edges will be firm and the center will be mostly set, but slightly jiggly like gelatin. Rotate the pan during cooking as needed to ensure even baking.

Allow to cool until warm but not hot before serving. If completely cooled, warm slightly before serving. You can serve with ice cream or whipped cream, but I like it plain.

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