Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Pie Time (Again)

'Tis the season for pies. Today is apparently National Pie Day, so I could not let this pass without a post. I love pies -- custard pies, nut pies, meat pies -- what have you. And my family loves pies, too. Our Thanksgiving table was filled with pies (and a couple of cakes). My contributions were a pecan pie and a chocolate pie. We also had egg custard pie, French coconut pie, sweet potato pie and, of course, pumpkin pie.

Thanksgiving dessert spread. Yum!
I would love to share the recipe for the chocolate pie, which turned out wonderfully, but I have no idea how I made it. Well, I kind of have an idea, but I'm going to have to go back and try it again to see if I can recreate it. Basically, what happened is that I was trying to make a chocolate chess pie which called for a can of evaporated milk. I was in a rush, as per usual, and wasn't paying attention to the size of can I had. I poured my 12-ounce can of milk into the mix realizing that what I really needed was a 5-ounce can. Oops, time to improvise! I added some cornstarch and a little flour and microwaved it for a few minutes to thicken it. Then I poured it in the shell, crossed my fingers and said a little pie prayer. It ended up turning out to be a thick, dense, chocolatey custard just like I had hoped. However, it was ugly (bad ugly). So, I made some whipped cream and spread it on top -- and threw a few chocolate chips for good measure. Every single bite was devoured.

Now, to the pecan pie -- the star of the show in my mind. Being a Georgia girl, naturally, I love pecans. I say "pa-kahn," some people pronounce it "pee-can." How do you say it? Pecan pie is one of my all time favorite pies and an absolute must for Thanksgiving -- and Christmas, too. This year I think I made my best pecan ever. I cannot tell you how to make the crust because I am a failure at such things. I'm working on it. I even tried to cheat and use refrigerated pie crust and I couldn't even handle that without it breaking apart and causing a great deal of cursing. I ended up sending  my husband on an emergency mission to the store for some pie shells. I know, I know -- they aren't as tasty, they have bad things in them -- but sometimes you have to just keep your sanity. I did hand shell the pecans. Talk about losing one's sanity! Fresh-shelled pecans do taste remarkably fresher, though. Just be prepared to do a lot of digging.

Pecan Pie 

9-inch deep dish pie crust (homemade or frozen)
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup corn syrup (I like to use half dark and half light)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pecans (halves or pieces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pie shell on a metal cookie sheet. Melt butter in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Whisk in corn syrup, sugar, salt and vanilla. Slowly beat in eggs until mixture is smooth. Place pecans on the bottom of pie crust and pour filling over them. (Don't worry, the pecans will rise.)

Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. If you find the crust is getting too brown, cover pie loosely with foil and continue baking. It's somewhat tricky to know when it's done, but look for it to be firm but still a little jiggly in the center. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Tips and Tricks

  • Consider using a mix of dark and light corn syrups for a nice balance of flavors. However, if I had to pick one, I'd go with the dark. 
  • Using brown sugar as opposed to white sugar gives it a great caramel flavor. Again, dark is my favorite. This is the first time I used brown sugar for pecan pie and results were fantastic. 
  • I must give credit to the October/November issue of Garden and Gun magazine for the idea of using brown sugar and placing the pecans on the bottom which allows them to get fully coated and toasted with the delicious sugary filling. The cover of the magazine featured a beautiful pecan pie from Wildflour Pastry in Charleston, South Carolina. While it did not contain the recipe, the article did contain these two tricks.

I hope all of you here in the U.S. had a wonderful pie-filled Thanksgiving. Happy Pie Day!


  1. Everyday should be pie day. This looks fantastic.

  2. Thanks so much, carolinaheartstrings! I've got to get back to baking and posting. I can't believe how quickly December is speeding by.