Classic Pecan Pie

A perfect Pecan pie is a thing of sublime beauty. What I consider perfection starts, of course, with great nuts, and for my mind, this means they should be fancy halves from Texas. I don’t know the scientific reason why, but I can honestly say I’ve tried nuts from all over and the Texas ones are best; sweet, rich and meaty. This recipe does everything I want for that perfect pie; the nuts are front and center, it’s not too sweet, and has great depth of flavor, with just a touch of salty from the simple crust, as well as the heady hints of vanilla and Whisky. It’ll make one perfect 9″ pie.

For the Crust:
2 cups all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup cold Butter, diced
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
6 – 8 Tablespoons Ice Cold Water

Filling:
2 1/2 Cups Pecan halves
3 Eggs
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, lightly packed
3/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
3 tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Sour Mash Whiskey
2 teaspoons pure Vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Crust Prep:
Remember; great pie dough is simple and minimally handled!
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients by hand until it resembles rough corn meal in texture.
Add the water a tablespoon at a time and stir the dough with a fork.
When the dough holds together as a ball, but isn’t wet or sticky, stop messing with it, cover it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.

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This is, BTW, the basic KitchenAid mixer pie dough, so you can use that device if you prefer, (That’s what I do).

Form the dough into a disk about 3/4″ thick, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface, into 12-inch circle about 1/8″ thick. Lift an edge and carefully peel the dough free, then drape it onto a dry 9″ pie pan.
Trim the dough with a paring knife, leaving it about 1″ over the edge, then tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge on the pan, and treat it as you see fit, (I like the classic thumb print myself).

Preheat your oven to 400 F, and position racks in the center and lower third of oven.

Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights.

Spread the pecan halves out on a baking sheet.

Blind bake the crust on the center rack for 15 minutes, and start on the filling.

In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and corn syrup. Stir constantly with a whisk until completely combined.

Slip the pecans into the hot oven on the lower rack; let both nuts and crust bake for another 5 minutes.

Lightly beat the eggs and set aside.

Remove crust and nuts from oven and reduce heat to 350 F.

Remove filling mixture from heat. Add hot nuts to the hot mixture. Add Vanilla and Whisky carefully and slowly; the hot sugar can bubble up explosively if it’s too hot and it will scald and stick to skin!

Add eggs to hot nut mixture and incorporate thoroughly with a whisk.

Remove weight or beans from crust, then pour hot filling carefully to fill crust.

Place pie on center rack of oven with a baking sheet on the lower rack, centered under the pie.

Bake for 40 minutes and then take a peek; pie should look firm and nicely set at this point. If the edges are notably darker, line them with an edge guard or foil and bake another 5 minutes.

Remove pie from oven, set on a wire rack to cool.

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I don’t need to tell you to enjoy immensely,
do I?

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4 thoughts on “Classic Pecan Pie”

  1. Ok, Eben this looks really great and I bet it is but you turned me off a little in the first paragraph. I still don’t understand “not too sweet” when it comes to dessert. I’ve never tasted anything and thought, “oh, that’s too sweet” but I have had the opposite reaction. Is it just a difference in taste or something physical or did you just throw that in to sound “chefly.” Yeah, I know, that last is not very likely. Oh, and Gracie still wants to go to Panera but also misses you when we go there.

    1. To sound chefly….
      Sigh…..
      There IS such thing as too sweet! When sweet overwhelms something as lovely and complex as roasted Pecans, it’s too much. But in your case, just add more sugar.

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