Sunday, November 30, 2014

Heavenly Delicious Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

Double Chocolate Pecan Pie (Chocolate shell with chocolate in the filling)
This pie has graduated from an amorphous idea floating around in my brain to slowly taking shape, coming clearer and clearer like a shape slowly coming through a heavy fog, until finally taking on a concrete form. The idea has been playing in my mind for more than a year now. The thing is, I generally only make pecan pie for Thanksgiving. Last year, our friend Rich was here for Thanksgiving. Rich is a confirmed chocoholic. Therefore, last year's pecan pie was made with a chocolate pie shell and grated chocolate in the pie mixture itself. And my "Bourbon Pecan Pie" idea was still just that amorphous blob, floating in the back of my brain.

So it was that this year, when I found that none of my usual guests could make it to our Thanksgiving dinner, I started playing with all of my Thanksgiving recipes. I changed how I made my turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries, and finally - finally - I got to the pecan pie. I originally planned to make only a pumpkin pie. It was only going to be my husband, his sister and me, after all. 

But then that formless blob in the back of my mind just seemed to become insistent. The more i tried to convince myself that I just didn't need 2 pies, the clamor became louder. I guess it was just time for this thing to take shape. No ifs, ands or buts.

I have only ever used one recipe for My Best Pecan Pie. It has always been really good, so why mess with a good thing? It was a recipe printed on the inside of a ceramic pie plate that I acquired about 22 years ago. I have never even given a thought to using different ingredient amounts. When I made it into Double Chocolate Pecan Pie last year I only added in some grated chocolate to the existing recipe. 

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
So this year, it seemed I was seeing pecan pie recipes everywhere. Some said to use maple syrup. Some said to use Bourbon. I really never saw one that mentioned both these things in the same recipe, but to me it sounded like a match made in heaven. To be clear, I am not a Bourbon drinker. I had a drink once with Bourbon. It was okay. I never acquired a taste for Scotch at all. I do use these liquors in cooking and baking. The smell of Bourbon is very appealing, to me. The thought of Bourbon and maple just doubled the appeal, to my mind's "taste buds". I sat down and looked at recipes for pecan pies. In comparing one recipe I saw elsewhere to the recipe on the inside of my pie plate, well! The recipes were so very opposite to one another it was almost ludicrous. Since I knew how my pie turns out, and had no quarrel with it, I tried to use that recipe and alter it a little. The comparison recipe for example, used 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. My Best Pecan Pie recipe used a whole stick of butter! Hmmmm. 
Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie, served

I sat with my old recipe and took it apart, recreating it to where it felt like it should work. My goal was to be able to just taste the bourbon and the maple. Neither should become the dominant note. The Pecans are the star of this show. Other flavors are there to enhance. Maple syrup, while tasting wonderful, is runnier than the dark corn syrup I usually use, so I didn't want to use too much maple, for fear it would not set properly. To further enhance the maple, I used just a half teaspoon of maple flavoring. Again, I didn't want it to overwhelm. In most places where an alcohol such as Bourbon is used, be it in a cake or pie or any other dessert, the amount used is 2 tablespoons. Almost everywhere, this is true. I felt that 2 tablespoons was a safe amount then, to give the taste without going over the top either in flavor or liquid ingredients. This is the recipe I came up with:

Pecans placed on top and set into the oven to bake.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie

Makes one 10-inch pie

pie pastry for one 10-inch pie

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 to 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Fit pie pastry to a 9 1/2- or 10-inch pie plate, crimping high. Set into the refrigerator while preparing the filling. Set oven to 350 degrees (325 if using Convection Bake).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the first 3 dry ingredients. Add in the lightly beaten eggs and whisk only just to combine. Do not beat. In a separate bowl, stir together the corn syrup, maple syrup and melted butter. Once combined, stir in the Bourbon and maple flavoring. Pour this mixture into the sugar and egg mixture in the medium bowl. Whisk gently to combine the ingredients. Pour this mixture into the chilled pie shell. Top artfully with the pecan halves, rounded side up. Alternatively, just combine the pecans with the filling mixture and pour into the pie shell.

Bake the pie for about 1 hour, or until set. Cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.