Monday, January 19, 2015

Belated holiday recipe: Pecan Pie

With a Christmas Eve dinner to host at home and another party at a friend's place a few days later, I decided to bake a couple of pies for dessert, something I could prepare in advance. While many associated Christmas with panatone or stollen, it's more an American tradition (especially those from down south) to have pecan pie as part of the celebration meal (more so for Thanksgiving but also for Christmas too)

This recipe is a slightly altered version from the old-fashioned one. I used Pate Sucree (Sweet Crust) which is a bit sweeter and buttery than the traditional pecan pie base which was similar to Pate Brisee - more like a shortcrust texture. I picked up the recipe from Chef Ringo of FS Hong Kong some time back and I think it would be perfect for this. And I used ready-to-use packs of pecan halves instead of cracking and roasting raw nuts - something you could pick up at neighborhood grocery stores fairly easily. Also some recipes called for baking the crust and filling together, but instead I "blind-baked" the pie crust first before adding into the filling, giving it a more crunchy texture and "burnt" flavor (making a better contrast to the sweet pie filling, I reckon)


Recipe: Pecan Pie

Ingredients: (yield one 9" pie - serves 6-8)

Pie Crust: (Based on Sugar Dough/Pate Sucree recipe)
190g Icing Sugar
300g butter
1.5g salt
60g almond powder
2 eggs (the recipe said 112.5g, but for all practical purposes let's just say 2 eggs)
500g cake flour

Pie Filling:
2 cups pecan halves, half roughly chopped, half left as whole halves
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup (or maple syrup for richer taste)
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoon (1 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
(Optional) 1 tablespoon of bourbon whisky

Procedures:

1. Mix smooth the butter and icing sugar, then add the salt, almond powder and eggs, and mix well.
2. Add the flour and continue to mix into a smooth dough. Form a flattened ball shape, wrapped in plastic and placed in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to firm up. (it can be prepared in advance and kept frozen for up to a month - just defroze before use)
3. Pre-heat oven to 170C. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thin round, about 1/4 inch thick with size bigger than the pie pan. Carefully placed the dough over the pan, gently press the dough into the pan, shape and cut off any excess. Make sure there's no holes or cracks especially the edge - you can fix by putting "patch" onto the dough.
4. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork, line the pie shell with patchment paper and fill with weights. Bake the pie in the lower rack of the oven for 15 minutes, rotating halfway, then remove the paper and weights and continue to bake for 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and leave until completely cooled. Leave the oven on.
5. While the shell's baking, prepare the filling by first melting brown sugar in butter in a saucepan over low heat, then pour into a mixing bowl. Whisk in corn syrup, vanilla extract, salt, egg, corn syrup, and lastly mix crushed pecan halves and optionally, the bourbon.
6. Pour the filling into the half-baked pie shell (make sure it won't overflow), spread the remaining whole pecan halves on top.
7. Put the pie back into the oven and bake until fillings are set, about 45-60 minutes. Cover crust in foil and turn down the temperature slightly (say to 150C) if the crust started turning brown in the oven.

Slice of Pecan Pie, Banana Icecream, Freeze-dried Plum and Burnt Baguette powder
The pie can be served immediately or made ahead and chilled. It can be eaten warm or at room temperature. It's best serve with icing sugar sprinkled on top and/or with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.


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