Recipe for the pecan pie
Updated: Jan 13, 2019
As usual, receiving your letters is a delight. Your account of the kunafa you prepared last week was so vivid that I could almost taste it while reading the words and taking note of all the details.
I was surprised you asked me for the recipe for the pecan pie, especially after having brought that terrible version of it to your Thanksgiving dinner last year. The cracked and hard crust, and the poorly set filling -a catastrophe. I knew something was wrong with my oven, but noooo, nobody believed me. "And what is the problem?", the technician asked me on the phone! As if it were so easy for us neophytes to know.
But, if you liked that accident of a pie, then I'm sure you would have loved the one I baked yesterday (the oven’s half-burnt top grill is already in optimal conditions). The crust was delicate and flaky; I used 00 flour, butter, salt, sugar and icy water. For filling, toasted pecans and a caramel made with brown sugar, white sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter, salt and the star-ingredients: Bourbon vainilla fresh seeds and a not so small squirt of Silver Select Jack Daniel's. Oh, and then I added this mixture to the eggs that I had previously beaten. The final step was to spread the chopped pecans in the pre-baked crust, pour the caramel and decorate with the whole pecans. I am telling you this time I would not be mortified to take this sweet as a contribution.
I know you always want me to tell you where I get the recipes, but I'm afraid I have to disappoint you one more time. This is also an amalgam of various versions that had inspired me separately, but I adapted it, to a large extent, from Cheryl Day’s (Bourbon Pecan Pie) and Dean Fearing’s (Texas State Fair Pecan Pie), for obvious reasons, as you may appreciate. Both featured on the website of Food & Wine Magazine, one of my favorites.
I enclose the usual little card with the exact amounts and I look forward to hearing from you.
For the crust and leaf decorations
2¼ cups (290 gr.) of “00” flour (can be substituted by pastry flour)
1 tbsp granulated sugar (12.5 gr.)
1 tsp salt (5 gr.)
1 stick plus 4 tablespoons (170 gr.) unsalted very cold butter, cut into small dices
1/4 cup (60 ml.) of ice water
For the filling
2 /3 cup (135 gr.) packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup (225 gr.)
½ cup (100 gr.) white sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter (85 gr.), cut into pieces
¾ cup of cream (170 gr.)
1 tsp flaky sea salt (5 gr.), plus more for garnish
3-4 large eggs, lightly beaten
vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
45ml of Jack Daniels or other bourbon, scotch or whisky (3 tablespoons)
2 ½ cups chopped pecans, previously toasted (312 gr.)
½ cup whole pecans (63 gr.)
In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the cold butter and mix using a pastry blade so the butter is all covered with flour. Continue cutting the butter with the blade until the butter dices are the size of small peas. Add the ice water and mix until the pastry is evenly moistened. Turn it out onto a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Form the pastry into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a disk (3mm. thick) and transfer into a deep pie plate or cake form (I used a 24cm diameter one). Fold the edge of the pastry and crimp the edges. Prick the bottom with a fork in a few places. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.
With the remaining scraps of the dough roll out another pastry disk and with different leaf-shaped cookie cutters create small decorations. Place them on a tray lined with baking paper and put in the fridge until ready to bake.
Line the pie shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove the paper and weights and bake the shell for 15 minutes longer, or until it is lightly golden. Leave the oven on.
While the crust is baking, in a medium saucepan add the brown sugar, corn syrup, white sugar and melt over low heat. When the caramel starts forming, add the butter and strir until is fully incorporated. Add the bourbon. Stir for 1 minute.
Add the cream. It will splash so continue stirring until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla seeds. Remove from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.
In a heatproof bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Gradually whisk in the caramel mixture (constantly stirring) until thoroughly blended. Add the flaky salt.
Spread the toasted pecans in the bottom of the warm pie shell and pour the filling on top. Use the whole pecans to create a pattern.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is just barely set and the crust is golden brown.
After the pie has been baked, bake the leaf shaped decorations for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. For nice shades of brown, the cookies can be brushed with a thin layer of honey and water mixture before baking.
Serve with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.