What’s more southern, and what’s more classic, than pecan pie? Now, some folks, don’t like to mess with a classic–and if that describes you when it comes to pecan pie, by all means skip this recipe. But my personal pecan pie life changed a few years ago when an editor from Southern Living magazine demonstrated, during an interview I was conducting on TV, a pecan pie variation made with bourbon, chocolate, and walnuts. It was not only the greatest pecan pie I’d ever tasted, it was also one of the greatest pies of any kind in my tasting experience. Here’s my version of the recipes. If you make it, I’m sure that you, too, will merrily ignore that little purist voice inside your head–especially if you top your slice with whipped cream.
Bourbon, Chocolate, and Walnut Pecan Pie
Yield: 1 pie (9 1/2 inches), 6 to 8 servings
1/2 the dough from 1 recipe for superflaky piecrust (see below)
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts
4 large eggs
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 pound high-quality bittersweet chocolate broken into 1/2-inch-square chunks
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Roll out half of the dough from the Superflaky Piecrust recipe to 1/8 inch thickness. 1 inch larger than the pie plate. Drape the crust over the rolling pin and carefully fit into the pie plate. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch wider than the rim of the pie plate. Fold excess under the rim, on the outside of the plate, and crimp, pinching the dough between your thumb and forefinger at 1-inch intervals.
3. Toast the chopped pecans and chopped walnuts in a small saute pan placed over medium-high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until they are evenly toasted and crisp, about 4 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, light corn syrup, honey, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, melted butter, bourbon, all-purpose flour, vanilla extract, nutmeg, and cinnamon and blend until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the toasted pecans, toasted walnuts, and hunks of chocolate. Pour the mixture into the piecrust.
5. Bake the pie on the center oven rack until it is set, about 40 to 50 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center of the pie should come out clean (unless you hit a chocolatey spot). Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Super Flaky Pie Crust
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch squares
3 tablespoons cold vegetable sortening
1/3 cup ice water mixed with 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (have an extra 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water in reserve; you may need a bite more)
1. In a medium bowl, gently combine the all-purpose flour, cake four, salt, butter. The butter should be left in half-inch squares. Place in the freezer until butter is hard, about 5 minutes. Dump mixture on the counter and roll it over quickly with a rolling pin, scraping off whatever adheres to the pin; repeat 2 or 3 times until the butter forms flat flakes. Scrape mixture back into bowl and add shortening in chickpea-size lumps. Freeze another 5 minutes.
2. Dump mixture on the counter and roll and scrape two more times to incorporate shortening. Return to bowl, freeze 5 minutes more. Add water-vinegar mixture to bowl; toss with a fork. Press a few tablespoons of the mixture in your hand. If it clumps, you are okay; if it crumbles, add water a teaspoon at a time until mixture clumps. Dump onto the counter and bring together with your hands. Knead only once or twice, just to form a mass that sticks together. Divide into 2 flat rounds, one just slightly larger than the other. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before rolling.