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Let’s just eat dessert

We are coming into the home stretch for our Thanksgiving dinner. How about my favorite today, dessert. There are all kinds of desserts that go with Thanksgiving. The two traditional biggies are pumpkin pie, and today's topic, pecan pie. For pumpkin pie there are hundreds of different recipes providing flavor enhancements from cream cheese, to vanilla, and even alcoholic spirits. However, pecan pie seems to be more limited in the variety of flavor profiles.

There has been a lot of chatter in the media regarding the over abundance of corn syrup, or high fructose corn syrup, in processed foods. Many health experts are encouraging us to read labels and avoid too much of these corn syrup sweeteners. For the past 80 years pecan pie has been made with corn syrup.

As the story goes, in the early 1900s corn syrup was made and marketed by the Corn Products Refining Company of New York and Chicago. By the early 1930s they were looking for ideas to sell more product. The wife of one of their executives came up with a recipe for pecan pie, made with corn syrup. The company published the recipe and people all across America began to make pecan pie with corn syrup. Since that time, corn syrup as a sweetener has exploded to the point that we are now encouraged to reduce our intake.

This recipe is a favorite of mine and I believe produces the finest pecan pie you can serve to your guests. This pie needs to cool for at least 4 to 5 hours before it can be cut. Therefore, you can make this pie first thing in the morning and let it rest all day. It will be perfect by dinnertime.

First, we’ll start with a pie crust and then we will work on the filling. If you must, use a store bought pie crust, but try making it yourself, at least just once.

Pecan Pie

Pie Crust (1 deep pie crust)

1¼ cups all purpose flour

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into quarter inch slices

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup ice cold water

Place flour, butter and salt in food processor and pulse until a rough texture is achieved, (butter will be tiny pieces).

Add the water and pulse until dough is just sticky, turn out onto a floured surface.

(All of this can be done by hand, it just takes a little longer.)

Work dough with your hand 2 or 3 times only, then compress into a ball and flatten until about ¾ of an inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

When ready, place cooled dough on a floured surface and try to press down with the palm of your hand. If the dough starts to break wait, allow it to sit and warm up a little, 15 minutes should do. Roll out dough in a large circle to be about 2 inches wider that your pie plate. Roll dough up onto your rolling pin and lay it out over the pie plate. Pat dough down into plate and cut off the excess around the sides, (some folks like to crimp the edges), set aside in refrigerator while you make filling.

Pie Filling

1 cup pure maple syrup, less 3 tablespoons (do not use any substitute)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon molasses, (not black strap)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

½ teaspoon salt

1 whole egg

5 large egg yolks

1½ cups pecan halves, toasted in oven for about 6 minutes at 350, cooled

Place oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425.

In sauce pan heat maple syrup, sugar, cream and molasses until sugar dissolves, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in butter and salt, transfer to another bowl to cool for 10 minutes. Combine eggs and whip by hand for a couple of minutes. Temper your maple syrup mixture into the beaten eggs a little at a time.

Remove pie crust from refrigerator, or take your thawed store bought deep pie crust, and place pecan halves in bottom of pie shell. Pour liquid filling over pecans.

Place pie on lowest rack in oven and REDUCE heat to 325. Bake until filling is set and only jiggles slightly, about 45 to 60 minutes.

When done remove from oven and allow to cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. If you try to slice it too soon it may not be set. Allow to come up to room temperature before slicing.

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