Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pecan Pie

I love pie.  Any and all pies.  Peach pie, apple pie, cherry pie, chicken pot pie, shepherd's pie...they make me happy.  Of course, just saying the word "pie" makes me think of David Cross' guest appearance in Just Shoot Me. 

Anyway, with that said, I invited myself over my brother's for dinner the other night.  I absolutely adore big family dinners but my house is too small to fit our ever-expanding extended family in so my solution is to invite everyone over my brother's then bring the food.  It's a good solution all around--he has the space, I enjoy cooking for a small army, and we both like any excuse to get everyone together.  With it being summer, dinner was traditional family picnic favorites such as seasoned burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and tortellini salad.  But I was in the mood to do a little something different for dessert so decided to tackle my very first pecan pie. (More after the break)

Pecan Pie Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 1 prepared crust
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 6 tbl butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbl vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • dash of cinnamon
As I was making a ton of other food that day I totally cheated on the crust and bought the premade rolled ones from Pillsbury.  Is there a significant difference between store-bought and home-made crust?  Yes and no.  I've used some crust recipes that tasted virtually identical to store-bought--which trust me, is frustrating because after all that work I certainly want people to know I made it from scratch--and then others which are so incredibly flaky and light I would almost skip the pie part and just eat crust.  So in my personal experience if I have the time or want to impress someone who can tell the difference I will take the time to make pie crust from scratch, but for the most part I don't really bother. 
Anywho, I digress.  For the crust, I floured a pie pan (yes, there are two pictured because I also made a Berry Cheesecake. I'll post that recipe later) then unrolled the room temperature pie crust out over the pan.  After smoothing the bottom and sides, I then folded the edge of the crust all the way around the edge of the pie pan and crimped it.  To crimp, or what I think is officially called a "fluted edge," I pinch together my thumb and pointer finger of one hand, place them on the inside edge of the dough then from the outside edge of the dough use my other pointer finger to gently press the dough into the little "v" shape pinched fingers make. 
After crimping, dust the crust with flour and then loosely cover with foil.  This is the part where if I'm not careful I smoosh the crimping, so watch when you put the foil over the edges.  Then, fill the center of the pan with pie weights.  As you can notice, I don't actually have actual pie weights.  Instead, I just use a cup and a half of uncooked rice.  *shrug* It's cheap, easy, and I always have rice in the house. 

Put the crust in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Then take out and leave to cool slightly. 

While the crust bakes, add the pecans to a dry skillet over medium heat.  Being careful to not burn/scorch the nuts, cook, tossing frequently, until toasted which takes about 6-8 minutes. 

Let the pecans cool a bit then rough-chop them.



Then melt the butter in a heat-safe glass bowl placed in a pan of water simmering over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the salt and sugar and stir until completely incorporated.  Remove the glass bowl from the heat then, one at a time, whisk in the eggs.  After the eggs are mixed in, whisk in the remaining ingredients (both syrups, vanilla, cinnamon) and return the bowl to the simmering water.

Then stir...and stir...and stir the mixture.  If you happen to have an instant-read thermometer, cook over the simmering water until the mix reaches 130 degrees.  If you don't have a thermometer, watch for the color to darken slightly, the mixture to get all gooey, shiny looking, and it be hot to the touch (be careful on that last part...eek).  Once the mix reaches that point, stir in the pecans.

Remove the foil and weights from the prepared crust and pour in the pecan filling.  Bake at 275 degrees for 50 - 60 minutes or until the filling is firmed up but still slightly soft.  Let cool to room temperature and serve.  

Here the pie is going into the oven:
And this is what it looks like after baking:
Pecan pie is ridiculously decadent...enjoy.

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