Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tipsy Maple Pecan Pie

Here in the northeast the air has taken on that brisk edge that slowly starts to erase the soft humid air of summer. It’s breezy, the sky is piercing blue, and flashes of hot orange and red are starting to pepper the trees. For some this means cozy sweaters and a fireplace, for me it means PIE!

I just can’t help myself. The farmer’s market is in all its glory, tables rowdy with the mayhem of end-of-summer produce tangling with the autumn newbies–and I have been coming home so laden with produce that I have been spending each spare moment in the kitchen. Along with braised leeks, creamed kale, spicy gingered squash, and so on–there have been pies. Pear, plum, apple and even Concord grape. But for me the ultimate comes in the form of the pecan pie. I usually need to make one when pie season, I mean autumn, begins–but then try to save them for later in the season when local produce is meager.

This recipe is pretty basic. I have swapped out the usual refined sugar and corn syrup with the more wholesome alternatives of maple sugar and maple syrup. I realize not everyone has access to some natural sweeteners (read more about natural sweeteners here)–if not, instead of the maple sugar you can use raw sugar, which is slightly less processed than white or brown sugar–if you use maple sugar and want a less pronounced maple flavor, use honey or agave.

I realize that this recipe has its fair share of calories–but with the nutritious elements (all those pecans and molasses!) at least the calories are meaningful. I haven’t tried a vegan version of this, but I will work on it–in the meantime, I posted a vegan pecan pumpkin pie last year if you’d like to try it.

Tipsy Maple Pecan Pie
3/4 cup maple sugar (or organic raw sugar)
3/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 Basic Pie Dough (use your favorite 9-inch crust, or recipe below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

2. Put the molasses, sugar, agave, butter, and salt into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir with a until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Increase heat to high and let the mixture boil for 1 minute, then emove from heat, pour into a mixing bowl and let cool to room temperature.

4. Whisk eggs, vanilla, and bourbon into the molasses. Stir in the pecans, then pour mix into the prepared pie crust.

5. Bake the pie on middle rack for about 1 hour–it should be firm around the edge and nearly set but still a little soft in the middle (it should wiggle when you nudge it). Allow to cool completely before serving.

Basic Pie Dough (9-Inch)
This is such a simple crust, just make sure not to work it too much. Once you’ve added the ice water, stop fussing with it. To make ahead, this can rolled out and frozen for future use, or shaped into a disc and refrigerated for a few hours.

1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or your favorite baking four)
1 teaspoon raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold butter, diced, plus a little more to grease the pan

1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until it feels like cornmeal. Sprinkle in ice water, as needed (as many as 4 tablespoons) mixing it into the dough until it can form a ball. Press the dough into a round, flat disk, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling it out.

2. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with softened butter, then sprinkle with flour. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.

3. Fit the dough into the pan. Trim and crimp the edges.

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