There is much to love about sweet, nutty pecan pie, but it’s easy for this simple dessert to turn out tooth achingly sugary and void of pecan flavor, with a curdled filling sogging a leathery crust.
We wanted to create the ideal recipe for a not-too-sweet pie with a smooth-textured filling and a properly baked bottom crust. We decided to start from the bottom up.
By partially baking the crust, we ensured that the filling wouldn’t compromise its texture during baking and serving; we also found that adding the filling while the crust was still warm helped a great deal.
Next, we melted the butter and stirred together the filling in a bowl set over almost-simmering water. This makeshift double-boiler setup helped us maintain gentle heat, which protected against curdling.
We reversed the filling’s sugar overload by using a moderate amount of brown sugar. Its subtle, nuanced sweetness and molasses taste kept the spotlight trained on the pecans’ toasty flavor. Poured into the warm shell and baked to nutty perfection, this pecan pie moved right to the top of our nice list.
Chill the dough-lined pie plate for at least 30 minutes before beginning the recipe. The crust must still be warm when the filling is added. To serve the pie warm, cool it thoroughly so that it sets, then warm it in a 250 F oven for about 15 minutes and slice.
CLASSIC PECAN PIE
Start to finish: 1 hour (plus 2
hours for cooling)
1 recipe Basic Single-Crust Pie
Dough (recipe follows), fitted into
a 9-inch pie plate and chilled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter,
cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup packed (7 ounces) dark
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 ounces) pecans, toasted and chopped fine
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Line
chilled pie shell with double layer
of foil and fill with pie weights.
Bake until pie dough looks dry and
is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes.
Transfer pie plate to wire rack and
remove weights and foil. Adjust
oven rack to lower-middle position and reduce oven temperature
to 275 F. (Crust must still be warm
when filling is added.)
Melt butter in heatproof bowl
set in skillet of water maintained
at just below simmer. Remove
bowl from skillet and stir in sugar
and salt until butter is absorbed.
Whisk in eggs, then corn syrup and
vanilla until smooth. Return bowl
to hot water and stir until mixture
is shiny, hot to touch, and registers
130 F. Off heat, stir in pecans.
Pour pecan mixture into warm
pie crust. Bake pie until filling
looks set but yields when gently
pressed with back of spoon, 50
minutes to 1 hour. Let pie cool on
wire rack until filling has firmed
up, about 2 hours; serve slightly
warm (see note) or at room temperature. Basic Single-Crust Pie Dough:
We wanted pie dough that we
could count on for reliably flaky,
flavorful, crust and achieving it
came down to determining the
right fat, the right proportion of fat
to flour, and the right method for
combining them. A proportion of
3 parts butter to 2 parts shortening
proved optimal for both flavor and
texture, and a high-fat ratio of 2
parts flour to 1 part fat produced
a workable, tender dough.
Makes enough for one 9-inch
Total time: 30 minutes (plus 1
hour for chilling)
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and
4-6 tablespoons ice water
Process flour, sugar, and salt in
food processor until combined.
Scatter shortening over top and
process until mixture resembles
coarse cornmeal, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over
top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about
10 pulses. Transfer mixture to
Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice
water over mixture. Stir and press
dough together, using stiff rubber spatula, until dough sticks
together. If dough does not come
together, stir in remaining water, 1
tablespoon at a time, until it does.
Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into 4-inch
disk. Wrap dough tightly in plastic
wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Before rolling dough out, let sit on
counter to soften slightly, about 10
Nutrition information per serving: 659 calories; 375 calories from
fat; 42 g fat (13 g saturated; 1 g
trans fats); 123 mg cholesterol; 338
mg sodium; 70 g carbohydrate; 3 g
fiber; 52 g sugar; 7 g protein.
For more recipes, cooking tips
and ingredient and product reviews, visit www.americastestkitchen.com. Find more recipes like Pecan Pie in “All-Time Best
Holiday Entertaining.” America’s
Test Kitchen provided this article
to The Associated Press.