Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

I almost forgot to get a picture.
Here it is in the oven, ready to bake.
   I think if every cook were to really come clean and own up to it they would admit to intimidation in the kitchen.  For some the intimidation might be boiling water, for others candy making or pastries, I think I could get a list quick!  For me the number one intimidation is in making pie crust.  I can't really put my finger on why, exactly I have a hard time with pie crust, but somewhere down the road of my cooking experience I had some pretty bad run ins with pie crust and ran away intimidated.  I'm not opposed to purchasing pre-shaped and in the pan pie crusts at all, or the rolled up pastry that you just unroll and plop in your own pie plate.  I'm ok with that.  Of of my biggest intimidators was in the final stage of pie crust construction---crimping.  I just could never get that crust to look pretty--ever!  That was surely the root of my problems, I just couldn't make a pretty crust.

I finally came to the conclusion that I could do it, and I was going to do it no matter what the cost.  I set out reading recipes for pie crusts and talking to friends who had great pie crusts.  I watched my sister make pie crust over thanksgiving and slowly built up my confidence.  There was one video I watched online where the cook demonstrated crimping in which I had that eureka moment and was once and for all on the other side of being intimidated and head set on motivated to make pie crust.

I knew, from my research that I needed to use butter, a food processor, and child the dough in the fridge.  These three factors were stumbling blocks for me in the past and I just decided that I was going to incorporate these steps in my crust making attempt.  I wanted to use real butter because I wanted to have that butter flavor and trademark flakiness that I just didn't see in shortening crusts (there is a HUGE debate about this topic on the Internet).  As for the food processor, I wanted to ensure that I mixed the butter, salt and flour together to get the right texture so I could add the ice water and have it all come magically together in one nice ball (just like on TV)  I didn't see that coming from a pastry blender and fork--at least from me.  Finally, chilling the dough.  That was a tough one let me tell you.  I just couldn't come to grips with the necessity of chilling the dough, but again my research showed that it was a critical step in making good pie crust.  See the flour has gluten, which is the binder, and that gluten needs to calm down after being worked over.  By resting the dough you give the gluten a chance to calm down, and the butter to chill out.  As the crust bakes the butter will evaporate and leave the flakiness that we want.  This post is really about Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie I promise.

I first started making Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie when Kendra and I were catering in Fort Worth.  We started Catering (Silver Spoons Catering) to raise money for the adoption of our two boys.  I really couldn't work a 2nd job being in ministry, so this gave me a great opportunity to do something I loved to do and make extra money as well.  As a caterer you always want to have something that is familiar to folks, yet different enough that your recipe stands out.  If you live in Texas for more than 24 hours you will run across people who talk about pecan pie.  I was going to be just another import hawking a pecan pie unless I twisted it.  Adding chocolate and bourbon seemed like not just a twist, but a tornado, and it worked.  At the height of our business Kendra and I made over 200 of this very pie in one year.  That's a lot of pie!

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie is not for the faint of heart, it's decadent to say the least.  I have to say that I really love this pie.  The bittersweet chocolate really comes to the rescue of this really sweet and rich pie, cutting the sweetness with the bitterness of the chocolate.  I think that is one of the keys, bittersweet chocolate chips.  The pecans float to the top of the pie as it bakes which gets them toasty and delicious, glazed with the sweet filling.  The filling is fairly run of the mill, corn syrup, eggs, salt, vanilla, sugar, butter, but then the bourbon is added and we are lifting off to another planet.

As a side note let me just say that if you cook with alcohol, don't buy it if you wouldn't drink it.  Buy the best quality you can get.  If you are unfamiliar with liquor stores, like me, just remember that the good stuff is on top--always!  The lower you go the lower you go in terms of quality.  I think the best quality you can get is important.  When it comes to bourbon you don't want to go with the super high quality, sippin' whiskey, because it's just a waste and the bourbon flavor can get really overpowering.  Maker's Mark and Elijah Craig are two my favorite brands.  One bottle will last me two or three years.

Pie Crust:

1 1/2 all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
4-6 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor: add flour, salt and cubed butter.  Process on low until it is small pebbles (think grape nuts size) add ice water two tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together in a ball, usually for me it's 4 tablespoons.  Remove dough and shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (20-30 minutes).  After elapsed time, remove dough to floured surface.  Dust pie dough with flour on both sides.  Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick and place in a deep dish 9" pie plate.  Fold in dough and crimp edges with fingers.

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan filling:

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 T. Bourbon
1 T. Vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 375.  In a medium size bow add sugar and melted butter.  Mix until creamy.  Add eggs, syrup, salt, bourbon and vanilla extract, mix on medium speed until thick and well combined.  Place chocolate chips and pecans evenly in prepared pie plate and slowly pour filling over.  Using a spatula, smooth the filling around until the pecans look evenly distributed.  Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes.  The pie will turn a dark amber brown an be slightly loose (like set pudding).

I love to serve this with a dusting of powdered sugar, fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Here it is!  Hot out of the oven.

1 comment:

Kelli said...

Will, This recipe is similar to my Kentucky Derby Pie!
I made 12 of them last Christmas and took them to Tim's office staff. They loved them and still talk about those pies! Now I have to keep impressing them...this year I made homemade salsa for everyone.
Keep posting your recipes! Maybe one day you'll be as popular as P-Dub!
Kelli Maynard