Thanksgiving is just around the corner and as everyone is buying their turkey, green beans, and sweet potatoes to prepare the holiday’s traditional dishes, I can’t help but get caught up in thoughts of one thing… Pie, Pie, and more Pie. As a kid we always had a large spread of food at the table but it was the end of the meal that made me so excited. My family always had many different types of pies to choose from which made me ensure I left a shred of room to try slices of a few different ones.
The most famous pie of the season and go to at Thanksgiving is undoubtedly Pumpkin. It is a flavor that seems to only have a rightful place this time of year. Everyone can’t wait for the time of year to come around so they can enjoy pumpkin again, but at the same token are very quick to dump the thought of Pumpkin once Thanksgiving ends, trading it for frosted sugar cookies and peppermint, even though pumpkin is still readily available in our modern market.
The pie that takes a backseat to Pumpkin but manages to sneak onto most family’s Thanksgiving spreads is Pecan. I never cared for Pecan Pie growing up. It was always too dry and overly sweet. A few years ago I thought I would give the pie a try having more grown up taste buds. I did enjoy it more than I did as a kid but it still couldn’t beat out Pumpkin for my fall favorite pie. I made sure not to burn the thing but it still had way too much sweetness.
A few more years passed and here we are today. This time I decided to use a more traditional recipe for Pecan Pie that did not use the processed, overly sweet Karo Syrup that originally marketed the pie to fame. The traditional style recipes of the south uses less processed syrups like sorghum and cane syrup. Sorghum is made from cereal grass and cane syrup comes from boiled down juice of the sugarcane plant. These aren’t widely available unless you scour organic markets or live in the south. Hence why Karo takes the place of these since it is more affordable and widely available. It is very easy to replicate the old-fashioned flavors using molasses, brown sugar, and pure maple syrup.
To kick the pie up a notch and stray from tradition just a wee bit I added a touch of Bourbon. You can use any type of whiskey but my boozy preference is Bourbon. Be sure to use mild or regular molasses and not the more potent blackstrap variety. Also be sure not to use imitation maple syrup over pure as the results would be similar to the Karo syrup recipes since both are filled with corn syrup as main ingredients and produce overly processed, intensely sweet final products. You need the pure maple syrup to give complexity and compliment the earthy tones of the toasted pecans.
As an option you can serve this with some whipped cream dolloped on top. If you really want to drive home the boozy flavor you can even add a bit of bourbon or other whiskey to the whipped cream. Add about 2 tbsp. of Bourbon per cup of heavy cream. Whip to stiff peaks with 1 tbsp. of light brown sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla. Keep refrigerated until ready to use or about 4 hours. This recipe makes 3 mini pies. You will need 3 mini tartlet pans.
Boozy Pecan Pies
- ½ cup Maple Syrup
- ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
- ¼ cup Heavy Cream
- ½ tbsp. Molasses
- 1 tbsp. Bourbon
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 3 Egg Yolks
- ¾ cup Pecans; toasted & chopped
- 1 Sheet of Rolled Pie Crust; such as Pillsbury
- Unroll one sheet of pie crust over the first tartlet pan. Gently press into bottom and sides. Gather remaining dough and re-roll. Repeat with the remaining two tartlet pans. Place all three prepared pans in the refrigerator and chill crust for at least 30 minutes.
- Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 450°. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the maple syrup, sugar, cream, molasses, and bourbon. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove the syrup mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled, whisk in the butter and salt until combined. Quickly whisk in the egg yolks until incorporated.
- Remove the tartlet pans from the refrigerator and place on a baking sheet. Divide an even amount of pecans between the three tartlet pans and scatter pecans into each pie shell. Carefully pour the syrup mixture over the pecans. Place the pies in the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 325°. Bake until the filling is set. The pie center will still jiggle slightly when the baking sheet is gently shaken, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool pies on a rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until completely set, about 3 hours but no longer than 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Bourbon whipped cream recipe can be found in the final paragraph above.
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