CHEW THIS! Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

img_0099.png

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, July 17th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Traditional Pecan Pie is America’s Favorite Pie
Blaise Doubman

Did you know that pecan pie is “America’s Favorite Pie”, as determined by numerous online polls? It comes as no surprise to me, because pecan pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts of all time! I’ve had my fair share of them too! I’ve tried buttermilk pecan pie, chocolate chip pecan pie, citrus pecan pie and custard-filled pecan pie, but nothing beats the original classic that so many Americans love eating – the old-fashioned pecan pie, just like their mothers and grandmothers made. Between my Grandma Barbra, my Grandma Deloris, and myself, I’m not sure who has the biggest “sweet tooth”. It would be a close call, let me tell you. This pie has been served in my family for years and years. It wouldn’t be a pitch-in, a Holiday or any kind of event, without this classic dessert staple.

In developing this recipe, I didn’t want to stray very far from the original that I so fondly remember from my childhood. I knew that I wanted to use my Grandma Barbra’s crust recipe – my absolute favorite and “foolproof” method of making pie crust – but the filling I wanted to add in something a little special. That’s where the ground cinnamon comes in. It gives the pie a little “warmth” and really pairs nicely with the pecans and sugary filling. It isn’t overpowering, but it’s there, and adds just that perfect little something that slightly updates a classic.

Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie

Traditional pecan pie needs corn syrup, it’s just a fact. You can substitute dark corn syrup, instead of the white, but the flavor will be slightly darker, with a more pronounced flavor. I have made pecan pies before, without the corn syrup, and instead used a mixture of maple syrup, molasses and heavy cream, but the finished flavor just wasn’t anything near what I was looking for. If you find that the bake time, could still use more time for baking, please add an extra fifteen minutes to the baking time, being careful not to over bake the crust. Allowing the pie to cool to room temperature, before placing it in the refrigerator, also will help set the pie filling.

For the pie crust…
1 cup white all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons ice water
½ teaspoon salt

For the pie filling…
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs
1 cup white corn syrup
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F.

Make the pie crust first, by combining the white all-purpose flour, solid vegetable shortening and salt in a large bowl with a fork. Stir and mash together the ingredients until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Next, add in the ice water and mix together until a dough forms.

Once the dough has been formed, form it into a ball and place on a sheet of floured parchment paper. Take another piece of floured parchment paper, place on top, and roll the dough out to the size of your pie dish using a rolling pin.

Carefully remove the parchment paper from the top and flip the dough that’s on the parchment paper, dough side down, into your pie dish.

Remove the parchment paper, and carefully smooth out the dough. If there’s an excess dough on the sides, remove. Don’t worry if part of the dough rips or tears, there’s an easy solution for that. Just wet your fingers, and press the dough back together. This is what some people know as “water glue” for your pie dough. It works every time.

Once the dough is in the pie pan, using a fork, poke holes all over the bottom crust.

Place this in the preheated oven for exactly 27 minutes, then remove and cool slightly.

To make the pie filling, whisk together the large eggs, white corn syrup, brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, melted butter, salt and ground cinnamon.

Place the halved pecans inside the slightly warm pie shell evenly.

Pour the whisked mixture evenly over the pecans.

Take a large baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper on it. Then take the pie pan, placing it on the parchment lined baking sheet. This will prevent any pie overflow from going onto the floor of your oven.

Place in preheated oven for 50 minutes.

If you notice the pie browning quickly, tent the pie, or just the crust, with aluminum foil.

Once finished baking, remove and allow to cool. Refrigerate and serve. Store refrigerated.

CHEW THIS! Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans

candied-pecans-blaise-doubman-chew-this

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 1st 2015 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Candied Pecans are simple, flavorful and perfect for snacking!
Blaise Doubman

I’ve loved pecans for as long as I can remember. The earliest memory I can recall is my Grandma Barbra buying me a small bag of pecans at the old New Castle “Becker Brothers” grocery store. I loved them from my first taste. They add so much flavor to chocolate fudge, blondie brownies, on top of sweet potatoes and in spicy chili pecan soup. Yes, soup! It’s made with chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, onion, garlic, tomato – and topped with pecans. (A little hot for my taste, but good with a little sour cream and still in my recipe development process). It wasn’t until about three years ago though, that I started tinkering around with the process of actually candying the pecans. Want to make pecans better? Candy them with white and brown sugars and cook them in a low and slow oven – they’re incredible! These are not only delicious and easy; they will make your house smell better than any candle ever could!

Did you know that pecans are an excellent source of Vitamin E? Did you know they are a good source of energy? Pecans are also rich sources of several B-complex vitamins and great providers of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc! They really are a “miracle” nut – so don’t feel guilty when you’re snacking on your third or fourth handful. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a “diet recipe”, but pecans are more beneficial than eating a candy bar. And these candied pecans really add a flavorful crunch on top of your salad too. Sprinkle a few on top of your grilled chicken salad with orange dressing – how delicious does that sound? You’ll be amazed at how easy these are to make! Even if you’re a novice in the kitchen – try this recipe! It’s foolproof…

Candied Pecans

This recipe really is foolproof. Just follow the directions and you’ll get perfectly candied pecans every time. Store these in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. They are delicious sprinkled on top of salads, desserts or even main courses like soups, chicken dishes, etc. These are also a perfect gift for Valentine’s Day! Wrap them in little Valentine’s bags and tie with a red or pink ribbon. Be creative and have fun with different flavor combinations! Creativity and having fun are two important things when entering the kitchen. Leave your reservations at the door and enter with an open mind and have fun!

½ cup granulated white sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups pecan halves
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Splash of water

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 13×9-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl mix together the granulated white sugar, light brown sugar, ground cinnamon and salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the egg white, vanilla extract and splash of water until combined and frothy. Once combined, add in the pecans and toss until evenly coated with the egg white mixture.

Next, add the sugar mixture to the pecans and stir gently until all pecans are evenly coated with the mixture.

Pour the pecans onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread out evenly.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Once completely baked and candied, remove the pecans and allow to cool slightly before serving.