Monday, November 28, 2011

Perfect Pecan Pie

Mr Renn surprised me with a pie class earlier this month, and I had an immediate opportunity to practice my little heart out.  I was terribly, terribly pleased with how this pie came out.  Pair it with some gingerbread eggnog and it's the perfect thing for a midnight snack.  And maybe breakfast.  Either way it'll disappear in a cloud of calories faster than any pie has any right to.

thanksgiving pecan pie

 Pecan Pie

For Crust:
  • 1 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour, chilled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP + 1 tsp butter flavored shortening, cut in small cubes and chilled 
  • 2 TBSP + 1 tsp butter, cut in small cubes and chilled 
  • 2 TBSP + 1 tsp lard, cut in small cubes and chilled 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla butter nut flavor extract
  • approx 5 TBSP ice water

  • chilled rolling pin
  • food processor
  • chilled bowl
  • chilled pastry cloth
  • additional flour
  • pie weights or pennies
  • chilled 9" pie pan

In a food processor, mix flour, salt and sugar until combined.  Add shortening and lard and mix until mixture resembles sand. Add butter and mix in short pulses until mixture looks like course pea-sized crumbs. Turn mixture into a chilled bowl.

Mix vanilla extract with first 4 TBSP of ice water and fold water into dough mixture with a spatula. Press dough together until it sticks, adding up to 1 TBSP more water. Flatter into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and move to refrigerator for 1 hr to 2 days.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit long enough to become malleable.  Meanwhile, work flour into your pastry cloth by rubbing it in with your palms until you can lift your hands and they have no flour on them.  If your pastry cloth slips easily on your work surface, place a Silpat underneath for friction.

Flour your chilled rolling pin and roll your dough into a 12" circle, turning over occasionally.  Roll 1/3 of circle over rolling pin and move dough to chilled pie pan.  Gently press dough into pan, careful not to stretch the dough, rather lift the edges up while you press into the corners.  Trim edges of dough to about 1/2" beyond pan edges.  Patch as needed, then fold edges under to create a thick edge, then crimp edge with fingers.  Refrigerate 40 min until firm

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line pie crust with double layer of aluminum foil, then spread pie weights or pennies to weigh bottom of crust down. Bake 25-30 min until dough looks dry and sandy in color.  Remove from oven and remove foil and weights, then return to oven for additional 6 minutes. Prepare filling while crust is baking.

Pecan Filling (from The New Best Recipe cookbook, also known as my kitchen bible)

  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into 8+ pieces
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 C light corn syrup (remember to spray measuring cup with cooking oil spray first!)
  • 1 TBSP Vanilla Extract
  • (I also added 1/2 tsp Maple extract and 1/2 tsp Rum extract)
  • 2-2.5 Cups Pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces (I toasted mine in the oven while it was preheating for the pie crust - be careful not to burn them!)

Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pot of almost-simmering water.  Remove bowl and stir in the brown sugar and salt with a spoon until the butter is absorbed.  Beat in the eggs, then the corn syrup and vanilla. Return bowl to pot and stir until the mixture is shiny and hot (130 degrees on a thermometer).  Remove from heat and stir in pecans.

As soon as pie shell comes out of the oven, reduce temperature to 275 degrees. DON'T FORGET THIS STEP

Pour pecan mixture into the hot pie shell, then bake on the middle rack until the pie looks set and soft, like gelatin. 50 to 60 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack, and allow to cool for a minimum of 4 hours.

If you like to eat your pie warm, still cool the pie thoroughly so that it sets, then you can warm it in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes before slicing.

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