Choosing to eat a slice of pecan pie is not a careless decision. You know what you’re getting yourself into, without any doubts or regrets.
Pecan pie isn’t designed for anyone who is looking for textural lightness or calculated balance in flavor. A thick slice of this dessert is unapologetic and direct, with an in-your-face sweet intensity that you can’t ignore, no matter how hard you try.
Delicate, dainty, and demure? Most certainly not.
Daring, decadent, and devilish? Absolutely.
And it’s not just my recipe! Look up any ol’ pecan pie recipe online, and you’ll notice that the common thread is a ridiculously high sugar content in the filling, mixed with tons of butter and nuts. Maybe you’ll find some with chocolate chips or cranberries, but most are downright decadent.
But are we complaining? Nah.
With equal parts corn syrup and brown sugar combined with whole eggs and unsalted butter, the filling bakes into a thick and chewy mass studded with crunchy, toasted chunks of pecans.
And with big splashes of vanilla extract and bourbon (optional, of course), the strong caramel-like flavors are intensified to the extreme.
The filling is dense and dark, perhaps a little darker than most recipes you’ve seen, due to the molasses in the brown sugar. I prefer to use brown sugar as opposed to all white granulated sugar for a very naughty reason: I love the extra depth of flavor that it contributes, another complex layer of hardcore sweetness.
This dessert wants to cause a scene with every bite you take. There is no discipline. It’s sinful anarchy in the pastry world.
It’s the kind of excessively cloying dessert that will almost make you want to eat a big salad immediately afterwards, to gain back at least a speck of the self-control that you so quickly abandoned with your first hefty nut-filled forkful. Almost.
No regrets, remember? Please join me in forgetting the silly idea of restraint, and pile on the whipped cream as you blissfully indulge.Print
Do you prefer pecan pie to pumpkin or apple in the fall? Perfect this classic dessert at home with our sinfully sweet and nutty recipe.
For the Pie Crust:
- 1 recipe Foodal’s Pate Brisee Pie Crust
For the Filling:
- 2 1/2 cups raw and unsalted pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon bourbon or whiskey (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
To Prepare the Pie Crust:
- Prepare pie dough according to Foodal’s directions. Form into one large disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, remove the dough from the plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness until it will fit the base of a 9-inch pie pan, with about 1 inch of excess on all sides around the pan.
- Transfer and press into the bottom of the pie dish, fold the excess dough under the edge, and crimp decoratively. Place back into the refrigerator to chill for another hour.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F. Once chilled, line the crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Blind bake for 20 minutes.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Remove pie pen from the oven, and remove the pie weights and aluminum foil/parchment paper liner. It should be very lightly baked around the edges and on the inside. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes to set the bottom of the crust. Remove from the oven, keeping the oven on at 350°F. Let the crust cool slightly as you prepare the filling.
To Prepare the Filling:
- In a small saucepan, add the cubed butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar. Cook until the butter has completely melted and the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring continually with a whisk, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Lightly whisk eggs in a medium, heatproof bowl. Slowly pour the butter and sugar mixture in a steady stream into the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. Discard any solids that remain in the sieve.
- Whisk in the vanilla, bourbon, and salt. Stir in the pecans.
- Pour the pecan mixture into the prepared pie crust.
- Return to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the interior jiggles slightly when you shake the pan.
- Remove from the oven. Let cool completely at room temperature, about 4 hours. Serve at room temperature, or chill and serve cold.
- Prep Time: 50 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Category: Pie
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: pecan, pie, brown sugar
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep the Crust
Prepare the crust according to the directions in Foodal’s recipe for an all-butter pate brisee crust. Flatten it into a disc, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
After it’s had time to chill, remove from the refrigerator and set aside on a lightly floured countertop for 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough into a large circle to about 1/8 inch thick. It will need to fit the base of a 9-inch pie pan, with about 1 inch of excess around sides of the pan.
Transfer the dough to the bottom of the pan, and press in the bottom and sides. Fold any excess dough under the edge and crimp the dough all the way around the circumference of the pan.
Return the crust to the refrigerator. Chill for at least one more hour. For a quick shortcut, you place it in the freezer instead for at least 30 minutes.
Whichever method you choose, make sure the dough is completely chilled and very firm before baking. Cold, firm dough will maintain its shape better, and it won’t shrink during baking.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F
Step 2 – Blind Bake Crust
Line the chilled crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill it with weights. You can buy ceramic weights, or you can use dried beans or uncooked rice.
Place in the oven and blind bake for 20 minutes at 400°F.
Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Remove the pan from the oven, and remove aluminum foil/parchment paper and weights.
Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
Step 3 – Prep Ingredients for the Filling
You’ll notice that this recipe does not require you to toast the pecans before adding them to the filling. There’s no need to do any extra work! The nuts will be perfectly toasted as they bake in the filling.
Cube the stick of unsalted butter. Measure out the corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon or whiskey, and salt.
Is your brown sugar a little on the dry side? Try our tips for softening this essential ingredient!
Step 5 – Make the Filling
Add the cubed butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar to a small saucepan. Cook until the butter has totally melted and sugar has dissolved, stirring continually with a whisk, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. You want the mixture to cool down slightly to prevent the risk of cooking the eggs too quickly.
Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium heatproof bowl. Slowly pour the butter and sugar mixture in a steady stream into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pouring in a steady stream while whisking constantly is another preventive measure from getting scrambled eggs. This steps helps to gently cook the eggs while creating a smooth mixture.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl. This will create a smooth filling by removing any small bits of cooked egg and any chunks of sugar that did not melt.
Whisk in the vanilla, bourbon, and salt. Stir in the pecans.
Step 6 – Bake
Pour the pecan mixture into the prepared crust.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the edge of the crust is a golden-brown color and the center of the filling jiggles slightly when you gently shake the pan.
It will continue to set as it cools, so it should not be completely solid when you remove the pan from the oven.
Step 7 – Cool and Serve
Let cool completely at room temperature, for about 4 hours. Serve at room temperature, or chill and serve cold. Enjoy!
Lighten Up the Intensity Factor with Classic Toppings
With a treat as rich and sugary as this one, choose tried and true toppings that will provide a hint of lightness to cut through all that dense nuttiness.
Classic favorites like whipped cream and ice cream are perfect options. Their light, cool creaminess is the ideal contrast to a slice of this decadently heavy dessert.
And homemade whipped cream couldn’t be easier to make just a few minutes before serving dessert. Whisk together about 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with a sprinkle of salt, a splash of vanilla, and a tablespoon of powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
If ice cream is your preferred option, I’d stick with the refreshing simplicity of vanilla bean ice cream. But I will bow down to you if want to go above and beyond in terms of full fall flavor with something like a batch of homemade pumpkin cinnamon ice cream.
Fall only comes around once a year, after all. Milk it for all it’s worth!
And you might as well have more delicious pie recipes on hand to keep the autumnal spirit well and happy this year. Take a look at some of these favorites to try next:
So, what is your favorite type of fall pastry? Who has the biggest sweet tooth in your family during the holiday season? I’d love to know, because I’m definitely the proud owner of the BIGGEST sweet tooth in my family! Leave a comment below, and let’s talk about the dessert course. Don’t forget to give this recipe after you try it as well!
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.