Rich and delicious a perfect pecan pie is a study in contrasts… nutty crunchy pecans on top with a layer of silky-not too-sweet filling underneath. Chef Mia is our pecan pie purist (she’s been making pecan pie since she was knee high!) and insists that this contrast between gooey filling and the pretty concentric circles of whole nuts on top is what pecan pie is all about.
Her secret to the perfect filling is resisting the urge to whisk the filling. Unlike many other pie fillings, you DO NOT want to incorporate air in the filling. To make it look as good as it tastes, we take the time to place the nuts in concentric circles in the bottom of the shell before pouring in the filling. Many cooks just toss them in with the filling. Using our preferred method as you pour the filling over the nuts they are coated with the filling and magically float to the top (creating the two distinct layers!) Top off the pie with a dollop of Bourbon Chantilly Cream and it’s heaven. And, before we fall into that sugar coma after the Thanksgiving meal we usually head outside for an after dinner walk (or as Mia’s dad likes to say “the pre-amble to a second piece-o-pie”!) Be sure to check out our post Perfect Pie Crust to learn the secrets to making the best pie crust (ever!) and video tips on how to roll and crimp the dough.
Check out the video to see for yourself the pecan magic.
Makes one 9-inch pie
Yep, you read that right… the recipe calls for a pinch of finely ground black pepper! Just as with savory dishes a little salt and pepper brings out and enhances the flavors in a sweet dish too.
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup dark corn syrup
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch finely ground black pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 ¼ cups pecan halves
1 recipe Bourbon Chantilly Cream
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a large bowl, combine eggs and corn syrup; stir to combine. Add sugar, salt, pepper, and vanilla, and melted butter. Allow filling mixture to rest while you place the pecans in the pie shell.
Remove your pie shell from the refrigerator. Place pecans in concentric circles on the bottom of the pie shell. Pour filling gently over the pecans following the concentric circles as a path. Once all of the pecans are floating, continue to pour the remaining filling around the edge trying not to disturb the circles. If you have left over pecans, you can fill in gaps and or slide them gently underneath the top pecans. Bake pie in the center of the oven 40-50 minutes or until center is firm. Remove pie from oven and cool on a baking rack for at least 1 hour before serving. Do not even think about cutting this pie before it cools — the pie needs the cooling time for the filling to set — if you cut it hot the filling will ooze all over the plate.
Cut pie into wedges and serve with a generous dollop of Chantilly Cream.
Cook’s note: Pecans have a tendency to go rancid quickly (as do all high fat nuts.) Store nuts in the freezer for best results.
Bourbon Chantilly Cream
Makes 2 cups
Chantilly Cream is the cooking term for any lightly sweetened whipped cream that includes a liqueur.
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Place your bowl and whisk in the fridge 20 minutes before you are ready to whip the cream. Whip the cream with bourbon and powdered sugar. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Cook’s note: Substitute 3 teaspoons of vanilla if you’d rather skip the bourbon.