Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pecan Pie

I promise photos of the house very soon, but in the meantime, I have to share a recipe with you.  Over the weekend I made a pecan pie for a very special family event, and I thought, what better dessert to celebrate autumn than pecan pie?

I've made it before, but I decided to try a new recipe this time, and I'm glad I did.  Actually, I combined a couple of different recipes from Martha Stewart and Nick Malgieri, added a few variations of my own, and came up with what turned out to be my favorite pecan pie ever.  Less dense and gooey than many, this one has almost a custardy texture, and while no pecan pie feels light when you eat it, this is as close to creamy as a pecan pie can get.  It's all due to the eggs--lots of 'em.  Plus, I use very, very little light corn syrup compared to most pecan pies, which often get their sweetness from loads of dark corn syrup.  The sweetness in this version comes instead from molasses and brown sugar, making the flavor deeper and more complex--more autumnal.  Molasses is a traditional sweetener in New England desserts like Indian pudding, so if you like that kind of fall treat, you will love this pie!  It is not health food, that's for sure, but a little sliver is all you need (okay maybe two slivers), topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream--or even plain.

The Magpie's Pecan Pie

For the crust (adapted from Nick Malgieri's sweet dough recipe):

Note: I make a double crust recipe, using one half to make the crust and the other half to roll out and make little leaves for the top of the pie.  The recipe here is for one crust. If you'd like to decorate your pie with leaves or other cutouts, simply double it.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg

I make this in a food processor, but you can make it by hand, too.

  • Combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
  • Pulse 3 times at 1-second intervals.
  • Cut the butter into 1-T pieces and toss in work bowl.
  • Pulse about fifteen times until the mixture resembles corn meal.  
  • Add the egg to the work bowl and pulse until the dough forms a ball.  This only takes 10-15 seconds.
  • Scatter a little flour on your clean work surface.
  • Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead it 3 or 4 times quickly until it all holds together.  Do not overwork!
  • Press dough into a disk and sandwich it between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Press into a 6-inch circle, seal it with the wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Ingredients for the filling (adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook):
5 large eggs
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 Tablespoon bourbon, dark rum, or rum flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped, plus 1/3 cup whole pecan halves

To make the pie:
  • Set a rack at the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  • Roll out the chilled crust and set in a 9-inch pie pan.  I use a Pyrex pan for this recipe.
  • Crimp the edges of the crust in your favorite decorative pattern.
  • Place the crust in the fridge until you're ready for it.
  • If you want to make decorative leaves for the top, roll out your second crust, cut the leaves with small leaf-shaped cookie cutters, and then place the leaves on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Whisk one egg with a splash of milk or cream and brush this mixture over the leaves with a pastry brush.  Refrigerate the leaves until you're ready to use them.
  • In a medium bowl, make your filling by whisking together the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, bourbon or rum, vanilla, and salt.  Stir in the chopped pecans.
  • Take your prepared crust out of the fridge and pour the filling into it. 
  • Arrange pecan halves and decorative leaves (if you're using them) on the top of the filling.
  • Brush a little egg whisked with milk or cream over the crust edges for a gorgeous golden color.
  • Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the filling is well-set and puffed in the center.  I have a gas stove, so I find that I have to check the pie every 10-15 minutes, and turn it for even browning.  If the crust seems to be browning too quickly, you can always cover just the crust edges with some aluminum foil or, if you have one, a crust ring.
  • Cool on a pie rack.
  • This pie keeps fine at room temperature, loosely covered with foil, for about 3 days.

One more note: You'll have some crust leftover from making the leaves.  I re-roll this with my rolling pin into a rectangle, spread a little softened butter on it, and sprinkle it with cinnamon and demerara sugar.  Then I roll it up, jell-roll style.  I cut the roll into 1-inch pieces, brush each with egg, sprinkle a little more sugar on top, and pop them into the oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes.  They're great straight out of the oven or for breakfast the next day.  


  1. Yum! I will give this a try. I've tried several of the recipes you've shared before and they have become favorites at my house, like the Blueberry Cake & little pie pockets. I like the idea of using molasses.


    1. I'm so glad to hear it, Keri! I think you'll love the molasses flavor.

  2. Hi Gigi,

    I too love pecan pie! I am going to try your recipe this year. I also want to share an adaptation to the traditional recipe I made a few years ago, which has made my pecan pie a permanent request at thanksgiving, and that is I no longer use corn syrup but instead make my own simple syrup from mixture granulated and demerara sugar. I heat the sugar/syrup until the soft ball stage and let it cool, then use this instead of the corn syrup. I think it provides a not so sweet taste that corn syrup can sometimes create.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, I am really looking forward to baking season starting!


    1. Brilliant, Liz! I don't like using any corn syrup, so I'll use your adaptation with the simple syrup next time I make mine. That combined with the brown sugar and molasses of this recipe will make it even better! Thanks for the tip.

  3. Oooooo Gigi,
    How delicious ......... and I can just imagine your new home filled with the glorious aromas of pecan pie and cinnamon. Looking forward to seeing your photographs and many thanks for your lovely comment today.
    Much love and happy baking and home making !!!! XXXX

  4. I should have made this pie on the weekend for our Canadian Thanksgiving............you even have maple leaves (our flag) which would really have wowed everyone. Recipe sounds divine Gigi. xx

  5. The main reason I never usually make or go for the pecan pie is because they are so often too sweet and dense...so this recipe may just be the one I should try!

    My grandmother and mother always, always made either jam tarts or those cinnamon rolls with leftover pie dough so of course I always do too...they never make it to breakfast on the next day I have to say!

  6. YUM!!! Oh, yum, yum, yum! I've missed you, friend. I really have missed you.

  7. Oh, if that is as good as it looks .... lovely!

  8. Oh!my! pecan! pie!

    This looks so yum, Gigi. There's autumnal baking going on in this house too, blogpost on the way. :-)

  9. Your pie sounds totally delicious! I make pie sticks such as you have done, but never thought to roll them. Now that would be fun to do. Just a few days ago I made two pies, one apple and the other apricot. I did enjoy the left over crust for breakfast nibbles.

  10. Dearest Gigi,

    Happy belated birthday to you! We were in Atlanta yesterday, so I was away from my PC. Hope all is well.
    Hugs to you,

  11. This sounds so delicious Gigi... I am going to try and make this... Happy weekend... xv

  12. Very pleasing and appetizing. Tossed this one on my weekend baking list. Got my eye on your next posts. :)


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