Day one: classic pecan pie

For the first installment of the Twelve Days of Pie, we have made a classic southern dessert:  pecan pie!

I am from Maryland, and though it is below the Mason-Dixon line, whether it qualifies as a truly southern state depends on whom you ask.  My husband, however, is most definitely from the south, and pecan pie is one of his favorites.

Pecan trees are a species of hickory native to the southeastern United States.   Though packed with healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants, they are traditionally mixed with brown sugar and served in various desserts, which obviously lessens their nutritional value. Pecan pie is perhaps the most quintessential of these desserts.

Here is a recipe adapted from Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal, which has never failed us.

Ingredients

5 Tablespoons butter
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup toasted pecan halves
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon dark rum
Pie dough for one 9-inch pie (see recipe and tutorial here)

Method

Position rack into the lower portion of your oven and preheat to 450.

Dry toast the pecans in a skillet until fragrant and just starting to brown.

In the meantime…

Cream the butter with an electric mixer and gradually add in sugars.

When sugars are fully combined, beat in flour and salt.

Add beaten eggs.

When fully combined, mix in the pecans, vanilla and rum.

Roll out pie dough and fit into pie pan, trimming off excess and crimping edges as necessary and/or desired.

Pour pecan mixture into pan.

Place pie in oven and immediately reduce temperature to 325.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes, until center of pie is set.

Finally, try your best not to eat the whole thing in one sitting.

Untested variations:

Chocolate pecan pie

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie

I have these recipes bookmarked to try but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I will report back when I do.  But you really can’t beat the classic version, with its creamy center and caramelized surface.  SO GOOD.

Now stay tuned for 11 more days of pie!

-R

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