Pecan Pie. I first tried this special dessert when I came to New York a few years ago. I fell in love with the strong flavor of the toasted nuts, mixed with the deliciously rich, sweet, chewy filling. But let me tell you: I am no expert when it comes to making pies! Pies and cakes are two totally different animals. But for anyone out there who, like me, is more accustomed to making cakes than pies, this pie crust recipe is great for beginners. It contains cream cheese, which gives the crust a slightly tangy flavor and rolls out quickly and smoothly. I think this pie is best made with a mixture of chopped pecans for the filling and halved pecans for the top of the pie. It is even more decadent served with a side of whipped cream or ice cream. You can also add maple syrup (1 & 1/2 tablespoons) to your whipped cream for a taste sensation. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!
For the pie crust:
1 tablespoon ice water
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cold cider vinegar
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces
For the filling:
4 cups (13 oz) pecan halves, toasted
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Make the pie crust: First measure all ingredients, then refrigerate everything (including the flour & salt in the bowl) for 30 minutes before starting. Combine water & vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour & salt in another bowl. Cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingers until it resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Avoid over-mixing.
- Slowly add the water mixture to dough in a steady stream, stirring until the mixture just starts to hold together. Place dough on plastic wrap and wrap tightly, then press dough into a disc using a rolling pin. Place dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. If storing overnight, wait 15 minutes after taking it out of the refrigerator before you begin working with it.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Place pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 8-10 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Once done, turn oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and reserve 1 & 1/4 cups of pecans. Coarsely chop the remaining 2& 3/4 cups pecans.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13 inch round. Place dough into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim dough, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Turn overhang under, flush with rim of pie plate. Flute the edge and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, vanilla and salt until well combined. Stir in chopped pecans and pour mixture into the prepared pie crust, spreading evenly. Arrange reserved pecan halves on top in concentric circles until top is completely covered.
- Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spillage) and bake until filling is just set and crust is golden brown, about 90 minutes. (check pie at 60 minutes and if the nuts are getting too dark, cover loosely with foil). Place pie on a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Pie can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, for 1 day or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
*Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts.