Food and Garden Dailies started as a way to record my family's favorite recipes. It has come in handy many times when I'm asked for a recipe. I simply email a link to the blog! But I couldn't just stick to recipes. The kitchen is tied to the garden in so many ways...and so I let you into my ever changing garden as well.

If you're interested in my all-time favorite recipes, check out this post first: My Favorite Recipes

Monday, December 27, 2010

Perfect Pecan Pie

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I'm not a big pecan pie fan.  Don't get me wrong...I like it, I really do.  It's just that it's usually so rich that a small slice is all I want to eat for days.  And since our family is small (3) one pie suffices for most dessert occasions, and if I'm going to be honest, my apple pie is always picked first.  It's that good.

But this Christmas we had 12 people for dinner (hello, family from far away!!) and everyone had a favorite "must have" pie request.  We narrowed it to three pies:  apple, pumpkin, and pecan.  My aunt Debbie was going to make the pecan pie but when it came time to make the pie (had to get done before the turkey, and her recipe was not in the kitchen), we had to quickly switch to plan B for a recipe.  Cook's Illustrated has yet to fail me, so that's where I turned.  And, oh, my glad I did (although Debbie's recipe is similar, with a toffee candy crunchy top too!)!!

The crust was heavenly (always is...).   Light and airy and flaky.  The top of the pecan pie was like a crunchy toffee candy bar.  So, so good!  Very rich and decadent!

You might feel that heating (in essence, double boiling) the mixture is a step you can skip.  But that's the part that creates that crunchy toffee candy bar surface.  You really want to take a moment to follow that part carefully.  Get out your candy thermometer (or in my case...the meat thermometer worked fine...) and ready, set, go!

Perfect Pecan Pie
(Cook's Illustrated)

If you want warm pie, cool the pie thoroughly, then cut and warm it in a 250-degree oven for about twenty minutes.

Serves 8

Pie Shell
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for dough and rolling surface
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening , frozen, cut into small pieces
1 large egg white , chilled, thoroughly mixed with ice water (about 2 tablespoons) to equal 1/4 cup
1 large egg yolk , beaten with 1/8 teaspoon water

6 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole pecans (8 ounces), toasted and chopped into small pieces

1. For Pie Crust: Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter and shortening over dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle egg white mixture over flour mixture and, with blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. Shape dough into ball with hands, then flatten into 4-inch disk. Dust dough lightly with flour, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

3. Roll dough on lightly floured surface into 13-inch circle and transfer to 9-inch pie pan, preferably glass. Press dough into corners and sides of pan, being careful not to stretch dough. Trim edges of dough to make 1/2-inch overhang. Tuck overhanging dough under so that folded edge is flush with rim of pan. Flute edge, (see illustration 1).

4. Chill shell until firm, about 1 hour. Prick sides and bottom with fork and line entire shell with heavy-duty aluminum foil, pressing foil firmly against shell and extending it over fluted rim (illustration 2). Prick foil with fork (illustration 3) and return shell to refrigerator while oven is heating.

5. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, pressing once or twice with mitt-protected hands, if necessary, to flatten any puffing, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until bottom begins to color, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, brush sides and bottom with egg yolk, and return to oven until yolk glazes over, about 1 minute longer. Remove from oven, and set aside while preparing the filling.

6. Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees. Place pie shell in oven if not still warm.

7. For Pie: Melt butter in medium heatproof bowl set in skillet of water maintained at just below simmer. Remove bowl from skillet; mix in sugar and salt with wooden spoon until butter is absorbed. Beat in eggs, then corn syrup and vanilla. Return bowl to hot water; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130 degrees. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.

8. Pour mixture into warm shell; bake until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pie to rack; let cool completely, at least 4 hours. Serve pie at room temperature or warm, with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Lisa@ButteryBooks said...

The topping looks so nutty and delicious!

Sammie said...

My grandfather ADORES pecan pie and I've been meaning to make him a pie! It looks delicious- I hope he enjoys it!

Barbara said...

These things look gorgeous and I am sure are delicious. I'm bookmarking these to try this weekend.

Mey said...

I love your recipes, would love to contact you via email to share an idea.

Michele_Marie said...

So you cook it at 275 degrees?

dg said...

Yes, I just double checked...and you finish it at 275 degrees F.