Making Pecan Pie from scratch is A LOT EASIER than you might think. For years now, I've avoided baking this pie. Mainly because I've listened to distraught homecooks tell of their good intentions to make the infamous "Grandmother's Pie" only to be let down and left with an overly brown crust holding a runny filling. No thanks, but that's not the kind of baking experience I need during the holidays.
I read and read and read Pecan Pie recipes until I was completely UNcertain which way to turn. I didn't feel I could trust any recipe, until I went to my most trusted source for cooking. I don't know why I didn't think to read there first, it's my happy place of learning and it has never steered me wrong. I'm speaking of course of Cook's Illustrated. I've read their magazine for YEARS. Sure enough, they had the perfect pecan pie recipe. So I followed their technique for baking the filling.
The outcome was a perfectly firm pecan pie! I had no doubts or worries when I pulled it out of the oven. It was very apparent by touching the top, hot out of the oven, there was success waiting to be sliced out. The pecans shined so beautifully and the crust was light and flakey. It look so perfect, it almost didn't look real at all. My son even asked me, upon his inspection of my cooking, "is that real or did you make a fake pie?" Coming from a nine year old, I took that to be a compliment.
HERE'S ALL IT TAKES
- 1 unbaked pie crust to fit a deep pie dish
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup light corn sirup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole pecans (8 ounces)
Heat oven to 275ºF degrees.
Fill a medium saucepan with 1-inch of water and heat to below a simmer over medium-low heat. Use a medium size, heat-proof bowl that will sit on the saucepan but not touch the water or bottom of the pan. If you actually own a double-boiler, well then of course, use it instead. ;D
With the bowl set on the pan, melt the butter. Make sure the water below maintains below a simmer. Remove bowl from pan; mix in sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until butter is absorbed; remove any clumps of brown sugar. Beat in eggs, then corn sirup and vanilla. Return bowl to hot water pan; stir until mixture is shiny and warm to the touch, about 130ºF degrees. I used a thermometer to be absolutely sure. Remove from heat; stir in pecans.
Pour mixture into the pie shell. BAKE 50 to 60 minutes, until center feels set yet soft, like gelatin when gently pressed. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely for at least 4 hours.
The directions say, if you want to eat warm pie, you still have to allow the pie to cool completely. Cut your slice and warm it in a 250ºF degree oven for about 20 minutes. (Like that's gonna happen!)
If you happen to use salted butter in this recipe, omit the 1/2 teaspoon salt.