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Pecan Pie

December 31, 2009
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This is probably the latest I can get away with showing you my cute Christmas plates.  However, the Twelve Days of Christmas don’t end until January 6th, so it would be acceptable to celebrate Christmas during that whole time.  Theoretically speaking, of course.

The first time I made this pie was for Thanksgiving, and I was so busy and rushed I didn’t have time to take pictures and blog about it.  I genuinely regretted it because when I make something ridiculously good, I usually try to write about it to inform the rest of the world so they (that would be you guys) can make it too.

I have hazy childhood memories of a rich pecan pie with chocolate chips added in, of which all I could eat was maybe half a slice before I felt like I was going to keel over.  It was so rich, I needed like 3 glasses of milk just to get through that half a slice.  Maybe it’s for this reason that I’ve never really dabbled in pecan pie until now. 

I’ve mentioned before that Nate isn’t much of a dessert fan, but I have to tell him in advance that he can’t eat all of it if I want  more than that initial slice. The top is crunchy and crisp, and the custard is thick, but not too sweet.  And I can definitely eat more than just half a slice. 

Have a wonderful New Year’s and I’ll see you again in 2010!!

Perfect Pecan Pie

(From Cook’s Illustrated)

Pie Shell
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
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, mixed with ice water (about 2 tablespoons) to equal 1/4 cup
1 large egg yolk , beaten with 1/8 teaspoon water
Filling
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

 For Pie Crust: Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor fitted with steel blade, or mix in a large bowl. Scatter butter and shortening over dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds, or use a paster blender or knives to cut in the butter and shortening. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

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.

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.

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. Prick foil with fork and return shell to refrigerator while oven is heating.

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.

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

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.

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.

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