Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
There used to be this really amazing pie shop where I grew up. It was called Peggy Jean’s Pies. Peggy and Jean were two separate women. And they made amazing pies. Everyone in Columbia thought so, and there was hardly a celebration anywhere that didn’t involve one of Peggy Jean’s pies. Making pies was always a mystery to our family, so we always bought ours and never made them fresh. For Thanksgiving, my grandma would pick up several of Peg and Jean’s specialties for the family feast. There were lots of memorable pie moments (including when Aunt Sharon’s dog ate some of the pumpkin pie and she tried to play it off like the dipped her elbow in by mistake…), and lots of memorable pies (wow, the cherry–that was really fantastic!). One year my grandma picked up a chocolate bourbon pecan pie and I, not having *ahem* the sophistocated palate I have today, didn’t want anything to do with it. Pecans? Ewww. Bourbon? Gross (I was a kid, whatever). Chocolate? Yes, please–but not with that other stuff. So I always ignored that pie until one year it was the only one with leftovers, and I had a craving for something sweet… so I snuck a piece. And from then on, I was hooked. This pie was amazing! Sweet, gooey, chocolatey, crunchy, did I say gooey?
Sadly, though, Peggy Jeans is a thing of the past. The shop is closed and I haven’t seen or heard of their pies since I was in high school. But years later, having now acquainted myself with pie-making (thanks perhaps to best friend Matt, who is definitely the master pie baker), I have tried to recreate the heavenly chocolate bourbon pecan a few times, and this recipe is without-a-doubt the best.
The hard thing about this pie is to make sure you have the ratios all right, or else the taste and texture is thrown out of whack. It’s easy to add too much bourbon (what a temptation!), but I did that once with BFF Mark and we were drunk for days. And chocoholics might want more chocolate, but that messes up the gooey filling. And pecans, you’ve got to have enough, but, of course, not too many. Then I stumbled upon this recipe linked in a Pioneer Woman blog post, and from that moment on, I had eyes only for that pie. And when I finally made it for the Lang family Thanksgiving bash, it was a huge success. It’s not even a week after thanksgiving and I already want to make another one.
Okay, let me get on my soap box really quick before I pass on the recipe. Make your own crust. Seriously. It is so easy, and it tastes much better than a pre-made thing you pick up at the store. I promise. Now, there are times when store-bought crusts are necessary: like, if you need to make a pie for a leukemia fundraiser that starts in and hour and you don’t have a pound of butter in your fridge. But, come on, make your own crust. Okay?
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
(recipe from Amy at She Wears Many Hats)
For the Crust:
(I like this all butter standard from allrecipies)
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of butter (extra cold, diced into cubes)
1/4 cup of ice water (seriously, use cold water)
For the pie:
3/4 cup of light corn syrup
4 tbsp of melted butter
3/4 cup of light brown sugar
2 tbsp of bourbon (yeahhhh)
2 tbsp of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp of vanilla
1 1/4 cup of chopped pecans
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (if you want to throw in more, no one is looking…)
First make the pie dough! You can do this by hand using a fork or a pastry blender to incorporate the butter, but if you have a food processor or a stand mixer this will be the easiest thing in the world. Combine the flour and salt. Add the coooooold butter and work it into the flour. Try not to touch the butter with your hands, because this might melt it and you want to keep the butter solid. When the mixture becomes crumbly, add the ice water slowly, forming the mess into a ball. You only want to add enough water until the dough comes together. When you have a nice little ball of dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably longer, until it’s pretty firm. Once it’s been chilling long enough, unwrap the ball and roll it out into a circle on a floured surface.* The circle should be large enough to fit in your pie dish with some extra hanging off the edge. Put the pie crust in the pie dish and tidy up/crimp the edges (I used a leaf-cutter to cut leafs out of the dough to decorate the rim). Set this aside.
Preheat the oven to 425. Now start on the filling. It’s really easy. Whisk together the first seven filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then fold in the pecans and chocolate chips. OMG, easy peasy. Pour all of this into the pie dish, and bake the whole thing for 15 minutes, the reduce the oven heat to 350 and bake for another 45. Let the pie cool–supposedly for an hour, but it’s going to be really hard to do. When you cut into a slice of this baby, you’ll see that all the chocolate chips sank to the bottom, so there’s this amazing chocolate layer covered in a gooey pecan layer. It’s going to make you really happy, and you’ll be glad you made the crust by hand.
*Okay, if you have trouble with a sticky dough, or want to avoid having a big floury mess on your countertop, here’s a hint for rolling out the dough. Put a sheet of plastic wrap under the dough, and another sheet over the dough. Roll out the pie crust between these two sheets and there will be minimal mess (and easy transport to the pie dish).