Monday, April 9, 2012

Pecan Pie and a Flop

I hope everyone had a relaxing and blessed Easter! It's always good to be reminded of how great our God is, and remember that Jesus died and rose from the cross so that our sins would be forgiven, and so we could have everlasting life ourselves.

Holidays always mean lots of time spent in the kitchen--a feast is definitely in order! And a feast is what we had. Baked ham, rosemary lamb chops, grilled asparagus, deviled eggs, potato salad, homemade pickles, crescent rolls, cornbread, fruit goes on and on and on. Mom always outdoes herself. And that's before all the baked goods! I tackled some pies and cupcakes, then the two of us teamed up to make some egg bread and frosted sugar cookies. 

Let's talk pie. One pie, the pecan pie--the one I'm sharing with you today, was a give-away. But I'm told it got rave reviews. The other pie, lemon meringue, was a recipe featured on the cover of the latest Fine Cooking magazine and caught my attention immediately. I knew I had to attempt it! Then I realized I've never even eaten lemon meringue pie before, I've only made up in my head what I think it would taste like. I guess it's the unnatural fluorescent yellow filling that's kept me away for so long. Anyway, this pie is a marathon to make, and I was surprised at how smoothly the process was going. By the end I had a picture-perfect pie. 

That turned to soup when we cut into it. 

It's currently sitting, half-eaten, on the kitchen table positioned right next to the magazine with its shining cover photo looking at my pie and straight up mocking it. I think no one knows if it should be thrown out or mourned. The taste was right-on (I'm told, since I guess I can't say that I actually know what it was supposed to taste like). I'm not sure where it went wrong since the magazine had pictures to go along with the steps, but I'm determined to get this one right. And hopefully next time we can use forks instead of spoons...!

Back to the other pie (the one I know will come out as a solid as opposed to a liquid). Pecan pie often times calls for a touch of bourbon, which we didn't have on hand at the time (no worries, I've already solved that problem), so I substituted with some Crown Royal, which we always have hanging around. I had some leftover ground gingersnap cookies so I tossed them in the filling to add a little extra spice. You can use your favorite pie dough for the crust or an uncooked store-bought version. 

Classic Pie Dough
(makes top and bottom crust)

2 cups flour
3 Tbsp cold shortening, cut in cubes
3 Tbsp cold butter, cut in cubes
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6-8 Tbsp ice-cold water

Combine dry ingredients. Use a pastry blender (or two forks) to cut in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles wet sand and the fat is no bigger than pea-sized. Add 6 Tbsp of water and toss mixture with a fork to combine. Continue to add more water until the dough comes together and is no longer dry, but not sticky (you may need more than 8 Tbsp of water total). Divide dough in two, form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Avoid touching the dough with your hands as much as possible, since your hands are warm and you want the dough to stay cold. Put dough in the fridge for at least a half hour before rolling out. 

Pecan Pie 
Adapted from

3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp ground gingersnaps
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp Crown Royal (or bourbon)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
1 tsp maple sugar (white sugar or vanilla is fine too!)
1 uncooked pie shell

Place baking sheet on middle rack in oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Beat eggs with sugar until well combined. Stir in corn syrup, and add gingersnaps and flour. Mix in butter, Crown Royal and vanilla, then fold in chopped pecans. Pour filling into pie shell and top with pecan halves placed in a decorative pattern (or just mix them in-it all tastes the same!). Sprinkle with maple sugar. Place pie on baking sheet in oven and bake for an hour. 

I just got back from a trip down to Port Orange, Florida for a week spent with some crazy cousins. I'll be recounting my trip soon! Which may or my not include my attempt at surfing coming from someone who can barely stand on two feet on dry ground.

 Have a blessed week!

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