Well, if you are one of the odd few that don't like pecan pie, then this blog post is not for you. I rather like pecan pie, although it seems that I don't have it, or make it, nearly often enough. Recently I remedied the issue of not having made it in quite a while.
I would like to share my experience, and recipe, with you. I hope that you enjoy it, and that you decide that it's been too long since you have pecan pie. Go ahead, you know you want to, try this easy recipe.
It all started as we approached the Thanksgiving holiday. Obviously pumpkin pie was a given, but I thought that a pecan pie sounded like a good addition. We even bought a new bag of pecans, as we couldn't remember whether or not we had some at home. We did have a brand new bag in the freezer, but that's okay, we'll use them.
My wife was going to make the pumpkin pie, and I was going to make the pecan. As it turns out, the pumpkin pie only called for 1/2 the can of condensed milk, or was it evaporated milk? She chose to go ahead and make two pumpkin pies, thereby using both of the pie plates. The pecan pie would have to wait.
So, a couple days later, when we had an empty pie plate, I was able to proceed with operation pecan pie. The first thing I did was search for a recipe. Sure, I've made it before, and I've used a couple different recipes, but I wanted something new. The first priority: no corn syrup. It seems that the majority of pecan pie recipes have at least some corn syrup in them, but my pie didn't need it.
Why no corn syrup? As a family we want to make an effort to make healthy choices in our food. We really want to avoid GMO foods as much as possible, and with such a large percentage of corn in the USA being genetically modified, it really means that we have a desire to avoid many corn products, or to choose ones that are certified organic, or otherwise noted as GMO free.
A quick search for "pecan pie no corn syrup" led me to a simple recipe on AllRecipes.com.
First, of course, I had to start with the crust. I have a decent crust recipe that I got while in college, and it's perfect for pecan pie, but may need some tweaking.
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening (I used coconut oil)
3-4 Tbsp. cold water
3 Tbsp. finely chopped pecans
In mixing bowl, stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening until pieces are size of small peas. (Again, I used coconut oil, which is a healthier oil than most others on the market, and avoids the GMO rich oils such as corn and canola.) Stir in chopped pecans. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push to side of bowl. Repeat until all is moistened. Form dough into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, flatten dough with hands. Roll dough from center to edge, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap pastry around rolling pin, unroll onto a 9 inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. Trim to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate; fold under extra pastry. Make a fluted, rope-shaped, or scalloped edge. Do not prick pastry. Bake as directed in individual recipe.
Rather than attempt to roll it around my rolling pin, I simply rolled it out on top of a piece of parchment paper. I then turned the parchment paper over on top of the pie plate. This made a quite simple method of getting the pastry into the pie plate. The chopped pecans are the main reason that I like this crust for a pecan pie.
The crust is good, but not truly great. I found that I needed more than the 4 Tbsp. of water to properly moisten it, so keep that in mind. The coconut oil can certainly impart a coconut flavor to anything you prepare with it. They recommend using salt to cut the flavor. I made a second pie after the first one was finished, and I used closer to 1 full tsp. of salt, and I added about 1 Tbsp. of sugar as well. I'm not sure that there was a truly noticeable difference, but both versions were more than edible.
Now for the important part, the filling for the crust.
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter - melted
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Beat eggs until foamy. (I did this with a wire whisk, so don't think that an electric mixer is required for this.) Stir in melted butter. Stir in sugars and flour, mix well. Add milk, vanilla, and nuts last. Pour into unbaked 9 inch shell. Bake at 400° for 10 min., then 350° for 30-40 min.
I personally think that pecan pie needs to have pecans on top, as well as inside, so, although the recipe didn't call for it, I did add some to the top, as can be seen in the photo above. The downside is that it makes it a little harder to cut the pie, but it's well worth it.
I noticed a comment on the AllRecipes site that mentioned changing the baking temperature and times. It was suggested to bake at 350° for 15 min., then 300° for 50-55 minutes. I followed this suggestion. I baked it for exactly 50 minutes after turning the temperature down. If anything it seemed ever so slightly over baked.
Our pie plates are 9 1/2 inches, so the filling didn't seem to fill it nearly as full as I would have hoped. When I made the 2nd pie I increased many of the ingredients by about 1/4. Obviously I couldn't increase the eggs, and on some of the minor ingredients I didn't worry about exact measurements. That's the way I cook often, not worrying about exacts; if it's close, it's good enough.
Also with the 2nd pie, I baked it for 40 minutes after turning the oven down. The top of the pie showed some slight cracking, which is an indication of doneness. I pulled it out at that time rather than continue baking it. It was sufficiently baked, but could have easily baked for another 5 minutes with no problem, and is probably what I will do if/when I make this again.
And, of course, what is pecan pie without some vanilla ice cream? Sure, it's edible without it, but that ice cream really adds to the entire experience.
Conclusion: This is a very simple recipe to make. The most difficult part is the crust, but you are welcome to use your favorite pre-made crust if it's really that big of deal. As with most pecan pies, this one is very rich as well. If you can't handle your sweets, definitely go for a smaller slice. I've had some pecan pies, usually at restaurants, that have a somewhat bitter taste to them, this one had none of that. It was good enough that I could have eaten a bigger slice, but rich enough that I didn't need to. Definitely one of the better pecan pies that I've had in a long time, which probably explains why I made a second one.