You win some, you lose some. Pie has never been my baking strength, nor is it my favorite genre in the realm of baked goods, but I will begrudgingly make one when needed. I’m sure that like anything else, it just takes practice; I have made countless loaves of babka in the past year because I was determined to learn how to make a perfectly flavored and textured loaf, but pie doesn’t hold the same appeal or drive for me. However, it was Thanksgiving last week, and Thanksgiving generally calls for pie. Also, Baked Sunday Mornings called for pie, specifically a Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie, thus I made a pie. This is one of the recipes from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking that I never got around to prior to now, and I’m glad to have finally made it because it’s a great classic for Thanksgiving, or really any time during the November-December holidays. I used to make a classic pecan pie back in the day, and I feel like if you’re going to make that, adding chocolate is an excellent lifestyle choice. Not only that, BAKED has a penchant for baking with booze, and the addition of bourbon here lends depth and another dimension of complementary flavor.
The “win some” part for me was that this was one of my best-ever pie crusts! I had to make it by hand because I don’t have a food processor here in Israel, and I might do that by choice in the future. Even without machine power, the crust is very easy to assemble. You’ll combine 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl, work in 2 sticks’ worth of chilled butter cubes until they are the size of peas, then add enough water (up to ¾ cup) to bring it together. (I actually made a half-recipe this time, which produces the right amount of dough for a single-crust pie. The full recipe makes two portions of dough.) When working the butter by hand, you typically end up with little buttery sheets and flakes rather than round pebbles, which end up as flaky layers in the baked crust. I also found that it was easier to control the amount of water I added, so the dough was hydrated just enough, not too dry, not too sticky. I rolled it out in the morning after an overnight nap in the fridge, and it was my smoothest, easiest pie dough in recent memory. I usually have issues with the dough resisting and shrinking while I roll it, making it difficult to roll to a diameter of 12″, but this time my dough was chillaxed– in the pie dish it went, then into the freezer.
The filling comes together very quickly. After scattering chocolate chips across the bottom of the frozen crust, you stir together eggs, corn syrup, dark brown sugar, and chopped, toasted pecans. Pour this over the chocolate, then arrange more pecans on top.
Then came the “lose some” situation… I’m having trouble controlling temperature in my little European-style oven, and my baking times are all over the place. Usually whatever I’m baking is done way before it’s supposed to be… except this time. Unfortunately I had to leave to be somewhere, and the pie was not quite done after 55 minutes. I stuck a knife in the center, and it was watery under the crisp pecan lid! I wasn’t quite sure what that was supposed to mean; I left it in another 5 minutes, which was all I had before I had to walk out the door. It was also getting quite dark on top as well. The second knife test seemed to yield a better internal texture, so I hoped it was done… It was also difficult to tell because my testing knife came out with melted chocolate on it.
The top of the pie did not sink or droop in any way, so I was optimistic. It sat patiently to cool and rest for the remainder of the afternoon until I was nearly ready to leave for my dinner destination, and then I thought, I better check again that it’s done. Anyone to whom I bring baked goods knows by now that there will usually be a slice cut from a cake or pie (for photographic purposes), so I didn’t hesitate to remove a thick slice… which was gooey and raw through the middle.
I quickly threw the pie back in the oven for about 20 minutes, took the piping hot dish to my cousin’s house, and hoped for the best. When dessert rolled around, I was very pleased to see that the filling texture had firmed up a bit, and hey, at the very least I hoped no one would get poisoned by undercooked eggs!
Much of the pie was left over since there were only a few of us, so the next day I planned to bring it to another Thanksgiving dinner. Howeverrrr… also in the “lose some” column– I didn’t check the pie storage instructions in the recipe until I was literally serving it, at which point I realized that it should have been stored in the fridge overnight, not at room temperature. The last pecan pies that I’d made did not call for refrigeration, so it hadn’t even crossed my mind. 🙁 And honestly, had I been confident that the pie was actually fully cooked, I wouldn’t have been concerned, since there’s no dairy or fruit in it. But the undercooking nagged at me enough that I decided to abort serving the pie. No one needs food poisoning on Thanksgiving, amiright??
So this recipe was a bit underwhelming for me, needless to say. It probably would’ve been great with an additional 5-10 minutes in the oven and a foil cover after 30 minutes or so. I was exceedingly pleased with my crust though! It was flaky, cooked through, and not at all soggy, so I felt great about that. Unfortunately the filling that sat in it risked being a health hazard, so you know. Based on the little piece that I did taste, I liked the addition of chocolate and bourbon very much, though I would reduce the bourbon a smidge, as the flavor was quite strong.
If you’re looking for a nice twist/update to classic pecan pie, I highly recommend visiting Baked Sunday Mornings for the Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe. Your holiday pie-loving guests will appreciated your efforts! Take a look at the other bakers’ pies this week while you’re there, and happy pie-baking!
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.