Pecan pies and anything pecan is currently making rounds on the blogosphere in preparation for Thanksgiving. Now my only brush with pecans have been in the form of pecan and caramel ice cream at Baskin Robbins and the caramelised pecans sold on Oxford Street in London. Since I'm a huge fan of both, I had a gut feeling I'd be a fan of pecan pie as well. Having never tasted a pecan pie before, I wasn't quite sure what I should be looking for in the recipe. So rather than trawling online and using a recipe out of the blue, I turned to Brown Eyed Baker. I have tried some of her cupcake recipes in the past and have never been disappointed so I knew I could trust her with this, especially since she has wonderful step by step instructions on how to make the perfect pie crust.
Let's start with the crust. It was flaky and buttery and reminded me of shortbread biscuits, so that was definitely a winner. The pie filling itself was a tad on the sweet side but had a great crunch from the nuts (I toasted mine which I thought brought out their flavour even more) and had a firm yet moist texture. We served this with whipped cream. I will definitely be using the crust recipe again for my future pie endeavours.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbs ice water, plus more if required
6 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tbs vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces (leave some whole to decorate the top of the pie)
To prepare the pie crust, cut the butter into small cubes and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add butter to this mixture and pulse approximately 10 times (1 second pulses). The mixture should resemble coarse bread crumbs. Don't worry if some bits are larger than others. Sprinkle ice water over this mixture and continue pulsing for a further 20-30 seconds. If the dough appears dry, keep adding ice water a teaspoon at a time until the dough sticks when pinched together. Make sure the dough isn't too dry as it will otherwise crack when you try to roll it out. Shape the dough into 6 small discs on your worktop, wrap is cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Roll out the 6 dough balls onto a lightly floured surface (you need to work fast so that the dough remains cold). Roll into small circles to fit your tartlet pan including the sides. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll loosely into the tartlet pan. Gently press the dough into the pan including the sides and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove from the fridge and prick the dough at the bottom and the sides using a fork. Line crust with parchment paper or foil and fill this with pie weights or dried beans all the way to the top. Bake for 15 minutes and remove foil and weights. Rotate the pan and bake for an additional 5 to 15 minutes unitl golden brown and crispy. Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees Centigrade.
To make the filling, melt butter in a pan over a skillet of water maintained at just below simmer point. Remove pan and add to it sugar and salt, mixing with a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Once again, return the pan over hot water and stir until the mixture is shiny and hot to touch. Stir in the toasted pecans. Pour the mixture into the hot pie shell and bake for 50-60 minutes in the middle rack. The pie should look set, yet soft to the touch when pressed with the back of a spoon. Cool completely on a wire rack.
I made half the recipe which yielded 3 small pies.