I should begin by saying that this is not yo mamma’s Pecan Pie recipe. I have never been enamored with the dessert because it is always ridiculously sweet – that kind of sweet that gives you a pain in your jaw – and its pretty much all corn syrup which I generally try to avoid if I can.
While I can force down a sugar bomb so as not to offend anyone on thanksgiving, knowing allllll that corn syrup goes into the filling makes me uncomfortable and slightly nauseous. But I was determined to make pie because I recently discovered the pie dough of my dreams – i know, try to contain your excitement but I am pretty sure it will be life-changing. The filling is inspired by a French walnut tart that my fave Mark Bittman suggested as an alternative to the traditional pecan pie – I thought this was brilliant and immediately did some recon on the subject and came up with a hodgepodgy sorta recipe that uses eggs to bind everything instead of syrup and a non-coma-inducing amount of sugar. The result is an almost meringue-like crust on top of gooey goodness packed with toasted pecans – all swaddled in buttery tenderness.
Need I say more? No, no I didn’t think so.
I am usually a pretty tidy cook (something you learn pretty darn quick in a commercial kitchen) but I thought I would give a slight glimpse into the mess that inevitably explodes in my kitchen when testing and photographing a recipe. Yikes! Its always a bit of a scramble to tidy up and scrub away any evidence before my
cleanliness inspector husband gets home.
Chris just avert your eyes.
If you want to use the rolled dough scraps for decoration go for it – if a more elaborate top crust is your thing I would suggest doubling the dough recipe.
- 1 recipe sweet pastry dough (recipe below)
- 3 cups pecans (or walnuts), toasted and roughly chopped
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 4 tbl unsalted butter, melted
- (1 egg for egg washing the dough)
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F and take your pastry dough out of the fridge to soften (about 15 minutes).
- Roll out your dough to roughly a 12in circle, making sure to generously flour and rotate the dough as you roll - you can use a long offset spatula to slide under the dough as you go.
- Roll the dough towards you onto your rolling pin, place the tart pan where the dough was and roll the dough away from you and over the tart pan.*
- Gently lift the overhang so the dough tucks nicely into the pan edges and press it into the fluted sides - use the overhang scraps to patch any breaks or thin spots.
- Press your rolling pin along the sides of the pan to get a clean edge.
- Let the prepared dough chill in the fridge until firm, about 15-20 minutes (or 5-10 in the freezer if time is short).
- Prick the dough a few times with a fork, line with parchment and baking beans and blind bake for 20 minutes (see glossary for more info on blind baking).
- In a large bowl, combine the nuts, sugars, eggs, vanilla, cream and salt, mixing to incorporate everything together before finally stirring in the melted butter.
- Pour the filling into your prepared tart pan and spread it gently out to the edges.
- Bake 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan once, until the center is just set. Let cool slightly and serve warm or room temp.
If you are really having issues here, you can do one of two things:
1) reform the dough into a disc and start over (refrigerating newly formed disc first)
2) press the dough into the pan as if it were a shortbread cookie dough - this is a totally acceptable method but it is hard to get the thickness as even as rolling so I usually opt for patching but it is completely up to you!
- 8 tbl unsalted butter, cubed and very cold
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups all purpose flour
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbl heavy cream
- In a food processor with the blade attachment, pulse the butter and sugar a few times (about 3 times).
- Add the flour and salt and pulse again until the butter is mostly pea-sized or slightly bigger (about 5 pulses).
- Add the egg yolk and heavy cream, pulse a few times then let the mixer go until the dough comes together into a ball.
- Dump the dough out onto a clean counter and gently knead the dough a few times before forming into a flat disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 5 days (freeze for up to 6 months, thawing in the fridge 24hrs). Let dough sit on the counter 10-15 minutes before rolling.