Saturday, March 21, 2009

Caramel Pecan Pie

I thought you might like to actually have a pie recipe to go along with the How-To instructions for making pies and tarts!! This is one of my favorites. You'll notice that although this is a pie, I use the pastry crust that is normally used for tarts. It's a very sturdy crust (hence its use in tarts), but also tastes great when refrigerated. Most people like pecan pie heated, but I prefer it on the colder side - when its caramel taste is heightened and the pie has more texture. I also like to keep this refrigerated because the filling contains eggs.

People are usually crazy about my pecan pie because it so caramelly and does not have the gelatinous bottom so common in other pecan pie. I've achieved this by eliminating the butter in the filling, adding more nuts and baking it at a different temperature than normal.

Serves 8 – 10

Sweet Pastry Crust
1-1/2 cups(195 grams) all-purpose flour, fluffed, scooped and leveled into measuring cups
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 large egg yolk
1 - 3 teaspoons cream or water

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans
Garnish (optional)
16 pecan halves
Dark corn syrup, for brushing the nuts

Old Fashioned Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For photos of processing the dough, as well as rolling, transferring and crimping the dough, please see my post, Pies and Tarts - Parts 1, 2 and 3.

For the crust:
Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor bowl. Pulse-process until the ingredients are well mixed.

Add the cold butter. Pulse-process, about 7 times, until the butter is cut into lentil-sized pieces. Turn the processor on and add the egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water, through the feed tube. Process for 10 seconds. If not yet clumping, add another teaspoon of water. Process 10 seconds more. If necessary, add the remaining water, and process again. The dough should be dry, but should be able to be pinched together. Dump the dough out onto a board and press into a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch glass pie plate. (Flouring the plate is controversial, as there is a risk that the dough could shrink off of the pie plate rim. However, it’s so much easier to get the slices out of the pan when the plate is floured, that I do it anyway. )
Roll the dough into a 12-inch round, about 1/16-inch thick ( I like to use dough rings to get the exact thickness - you can see a photo of this and a link at my post ,Pies and Tarts - Part 2. This dough is too tender to be folded for transfer to the pie plate, so the easiest way to transfer it to the pie plate is to upturn the plastic onto the pie plate. The dough is very supple, so that cracks and breaks can be fixed by simply pinching it back together.

Cut the dough so that it extends 1/4 inch beyond the pie plate rim and then roll it up so that it rests on the rim (see my post, Pies and Tarts - part 3). Crimp the pie edge. Press a piece of nonstick aluminum foil into the crust, nonstick side touching the dough and fill the foil with pie weights.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil filled with the weights. If the dough has puffed anywhere, poke it with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape and then pat the dough back so it is tight against the pie plate. Bake for 5 - 10 minutes more until the dough is partially baked and just barely starting to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the Filling
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sugar. Stir in the corn syrup, vanilla and nuts. Pour into the partially baked pie shell.

Bake for 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Shield the crust edges with an aluminum shield. I like to make my own shields, as the one you can buy never seems to be the right size for the crust-edge that I have crafted. I do this by using a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil, which I cut into a round, larger than the pie plate and then I fold the edges up, which strengthens the shield and binds the two pieces of foil together. Then, of course, the center has to be cut out so that only the crust is being shielded.

Bake for 30 minutes more. Cover the top with foil if it’s browning too much. Bake for another 25 - 35 minutes, until set. (Total baking time is about 60 - 65 minutes). The filling should not shake when you move it. Transfer the pie to a wire rack.

Store the pie in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Do not freeze.
To garnish, brush the whole pecans with a little corn syrup and stick them to the pie, placed around the perimeter, like the markings on a clock-face. Let the pie cool completely. Wrap it with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve the pie either cold or at room temperature. It will be softer at room temperature, and stickier and gooier if cold.

For the Old Fashioned Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a small mixer bowl and beat on high speed until the cream stands in stiff peaks.


girlichef said...

mmmm..Pecan is one of my favorite pies in the whole wide world!! Yours sounds fabulous!

Penny Wantuck Eisenberg said...

This is my all-time favorite pie! It's also pretty fantastic and way over-the-top with some vanilla ice cream.

Anonymous said...

*tear* This. sounds. delicious.

giz said...

I like the crust tip on this one. It's a definite must try for me.