Happy Thanksgiving, Badasses, and welcome to this guest edition of The Badass Baker. One quick warning, upfront: I’m no baker! I pull my share of kitchen time at home with my wife, but where she takes no particular joy in cooking and loves baking, I’m the exact opposite. I once had a friend equate cooking to art and baking to science, and that feels about right to me. Cooking tends to forgive improvisation, and I like that freedom in the kitchen. So, believe me when I tell you, if I’m recommending a baking recipe, it’s dead simple. This recipe takes about 20 minutes of prep time and about an hour of baking time, so it’s really easy to throw together as a last-minute extra dessert for your holiday dinner or something to bring to your holiday work party the night before.
I’m from Texas, and pecan pie* is a pretty big deal here in the Lone Star State. There are two schools of thought on how to make it. One uses light corn syrup and butter, and it tends to be a bit more custardy. Texas Monthly has a great recipe for that kind of pecan pie, so check that one out if it sounds up your alley (or do a side-by-side!). I’m going to share my grandmother’s recipe for the other kind, which uses dark corn syrup and tends to be a bit thicker and more candy-like.
You’ll need three eggs, a cup of dark Karo corn syrup, a cup of granulated sugar, a cup of pecan halves** and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Because I’m lazy, I use a frozen, deep dish pie crust. I know that’s probably a sin, but I’m not really a baker, so I don’t care! The Texas Monthly article above also has a pie crust recipe, so look at that if you’d rather make your own.
So, let’s get started. First off, make yourself a sazerac:
Okay, so that part’s not strictly necessary, but it makes the baking more fun!
Gather the ingredients above (plus your cocktail), and start your oven preheating to 350° F...
First, lightly beat the three eggs into a large mixing bowl:
Then, add the vanilla extract and the Karo syrup to the bowl and mix well. That covers the wet ingredients, so next you’ll add the cup of sugar and thoroughly mix everything:
As the last step for the filling, you’ll add the cup of pecans (and then add a few more, if nobody’s looking), and stir thoroughly to coat them with the mix and distribute them throughout:
And with that, you’re done with the filling!
Next, you’ll want to transfer the mixture to the pie shell. I usually take the shell out a bit ahead of time and let it thaw enough that I can peel the crust out of the tin and grease the tin with a bit of butter or margarine before putting the crust back in. We’re cooking the pie long enough to turn the filling candy-like, which cooks the crust pretty thoroughly, and greasing the tin tends to make it a bit easier to keep the slices looking nice as you lift them out of the tin when serving. So, do that part or don’t, but either way, pour the filling into the shell next:
The filling can tend to cook over and make a sticky mess, so cover a cookie sheet in foil and place the filled pie tin on the sheet:
As a last step before baking, you may want to take small strips of foil and wrap the crust to prevent it from overcooking. I find that this lets the crust brown nicely without getting it too brown.
Your oven should be at temperature by now, so put the pie in at 350 F and leave it there for 60 minutes. When it’s done, the filling should be nicely caramelized and bubbling, and the crust should be a light golden brown. If it’s not there after 60 minutes, give it up to another 10 minutes. When it’s done, the pie should look like this:
Be careful pulling it out of the oven, because the filling is still molten, and it will tend to slosh a bit as you transfer the pie to a cooling rack. Let it sit long enough that the filling solidifies and the pie is cool enough to eat, and then serve (plain or with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt) and be a hero!
So, to recap...
* 3 eggs (slightly beaten)
* 1 cup dark (blue-label) Karo syrup
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 cup pecans
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 1 deep-dish, extra large pie shell
Preheat oven to 350° F. Mix ingredients and pour into pie shell. When oven is heated, bake 60-70 mins until crust is golden brown and filling caramelized.
It’s easy to keep most of the ingredients on hand in the pantry and the freezer for this recipe, and the prep and cook times are pretty minimal, so I find myself going to this one a few times every holiday season. If you’d like a quickie homemade dessert, or if you’ve never been lucky enough to have pecan pie, give it a whirl!
* That’s puh-con pie, buy the way. Not pee-can pie, puh-can pie, or any other nonsense. Puh-con, okay?
** Costco tends to have the best deals on nuts, which can be a bit expensive.