I will freely admit it--I cannot control myself when there is pecan pie around! I just love it so much--the sweet caramel stickiness, the crunchiness of the nuts, the flakiness of the dough--if it's around, guaranteed I am going to be snitching bite after bite! Fortunately for my waistline, I don't make it too often, so when I do, it better be amazing. This version is by far the best I've ever had and a perfect addition to any holiday dessert table. You'll love it!
First off, and I don't mean to be high and mighty here, but you've got to make your own pie dough--those store brands really don't cut it and my go-to pie dough recipe is easy and so delicious. Really, once you've attempted it and tasted it, you'll be hooked and not mind that little bit of effort. Plus the recipe makes two pie crusts so if you're making this pecan pie, you'll have an extra crust to either freeze or fill with something else!
The two most important things to remember when you're making pie dough are 1) don't overwork the dough and 2) You want to keep the butter/shortening COLD! If you keep to these two rules, you'll wind up with a tender flaky crust. So for example, when I say 1 stick of chilled unsalted butter cut into cubes, you should cut your butter up and place it back into the fridge to chill until you're ready to use it since it melts a little while you are handling it. Your ice water should really be that-- iced water etc.
The great thing about this dough is that it is mostly mixed in a food processor. Then you chill it for a few hours or overnight. If it's too cold to roll out let it sit for 15-20 minutes to soften. Then you roll it out and place it into your pie dish to chill again and prebake.
Meanwhile you toast the pecans which really brings out their flavor. Just make sure the nuts are fresh though. Pecans can turn rancid easily so store them in the freezer or fridge to stop them from spoiling. The first bag I opened had been mistakenly sitting in my pantry and were not good. Luckily I had another bag in the freezer!
Then you make the finger-lickin brown sugar/corn syrup sauce that coats those pecans and cooks up around them. It's so-o-o good!
Then it just bakes slowly in a very low oven for about an hour until you are presented with perfection!! Look at all those pecans! The perfect ending to your Thanksgiving meal (or any meal as far as I'm concerned)! Try it and let me know what you think. Meanwhile I'll be in the kitchen convincing myself that little bites taken over the course of a day couldn't possibly have the same calorie count as a full sized slice, right?!!
Prep Time: 2 hours including pie crust (or more); Bake Time: 1 hour; Total Time: 3 hours
For the Pie Crust
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and rechilled until ready to use
- 1/2 cup frozen solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2 cubes (I used Crisco)
- 5 tablespoons ice water (maybe more)
For the Pecan filling:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups pecans, lightly toasted and chopped into medium sized pieces
For the Pie Crust
1. Using a food processor, blend flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and shortening cubes and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
2. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and add the 5 tablespoons of water, using a fork to mix until the dough begins to come together. Add more water by the teaspoonful if it seems too dry.
3. Gather the dough into a ball and turn out onto a flat surface. Divide it in half and and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill for at at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit a bit to soften if it seems too cold to roll out. Meanwhile lightly flour a board or work surface, and with a lightly floured rolling pin, working from the center out, roll the dough out into a 12 inch circle, lifting and rotating the dough several times to make sure it's not sticking. Then loosely roll dough around rolling pin to transfer it and very carefully position it over the pan and unroll it, gently pressing dough down into a 9 or 10 inch pie plate. Trim overhang and crimp edges using your thumb and finger to make the indentations or any way you like.
5. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
6. Remove from refrigerator and prick all over with a fork. Chill for another 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Then remove from the refrigerator and line with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Fill with pie weights, beans or rice and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove lining and pie weights and bake for 5-15 minutes, rotating pan once until crust is golden brown. Check often so it doesn't get too dark. Remove from oven and set aside. Immediately decrease the oven temperature to 275ºF.
For the Filling:
1. Melt the butter in a medium bowl set over a pot of water that is barely simmering. Once melted remove the bowl from the water but don't turn the burner off. Stir the sugar and salt into the butter with wooden spoon till well mixed. Mix in the eggs thoroughly and then the corn syrup and vanilla. Return the bowl to the hot water and stir until the mixture is shiny and hot. If you have a candy thermometer it should read about 130ºF. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans. Pour into the pre-baked pie shell and bake in the middle of the oven for about 50-60 minutes. It should look set but still be soft so that if you gently press it with the back of a spoon, it gives a little.
2. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely, at least 4 hours.
Note: Pie crust is adapted from an old issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. Pecan filling adapted from Brown Eyed Baker http://www.browneyedbaker.com/pecan-pie-recipe/