I’m from the Pacific Northwest, and pecan pies were just not a “thing”. At least, not in my family. In fact, desserts were not a thing. We had pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, cake for birthdays and Christmas, and that was pretty much it.
Somewhere along the line I was introduced to those cute little pecan tassies and fell in love, but still hadn’t tackled an actual pie until . . . well . . . a month ago. Don’t wait until you’re in your sixties to try one; think of all the sweet, gooey goodness you will have missed.
My first attempt was lovely. And runny! Not acceptable. But oh, did it taste good.
I switched to mini pies because I like to fuss, and that gave me more rolling, crimping, and decorating opportunities. My first batch was chewy! I mean, pull-out-your-teeth chewy. Once again, not acceptable. But yes, they tasted amazing.
I learned some lessons along the way. The most important? Don’t forget the butter, and do NOT overbake them. Here are a few other tips:
- Though I love a flaky bottom crust as much as the next person, I decided the extra step of pre-baking the crusts wasn’t necessary. If you want to blind-bake your crusts, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t poke holes in the bottom. Just add pie weights and hope for the best. Pecan filling seeps down into those holes and turns to concrete on the bottom of your pans, especially if you overbake them. (Ask me how I know.) 10 minutes at 400 F was about right when I tried it. Meh . . . the pies I made without this step were just as good.
- It may sound a little odd, and I’ll probably be lynched if any pastry chefs see this, but I tried putting balls of dough in a tortilla press, between generously floured pieces of parchment. Pressed once, flipped it over (making sure there was still enough flour to let the dough spread easily) and pressed again. Worked like a charm. You didn’t hear that from me!
- The whiskey is completely optional. Just leave it out of the filling if you prefer.
- Pecan halves are fine for large pies, but when you’re filling these small pie pans, chopped nuts work better. Decorate the top with pecan halves if you’d like.
- Pie crust decorations can be added before baking or baked separately on a baking sheet at 425 F. Your choice. I kind of like to bake them separately; then I can place them where I want on each baked pie. Watch them closely; they go from raw to burnt very quickly. You can see that this batch of leaves was a little dark. Still yummy, though!
The next batch was beeeeautiful, if I do say so myself.
|Mini Maple Pecan Pies|| |
- PIE CRUST:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt (1¼ if using unsalted butter)
- 1 cup chilled shortening
- ½ cup cold butter, coarsely grated
- 2 tablespoons maple whiskey (or use regular whiskey, vodka, or 1½ T vinegar)
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- PIE FILLING:
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ cup corn syrup (light)
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk (keep the white for brushing on the crusts)
- 2 tablespoons maple whiskey (or regular whiskey)
- 1 teaspoon maple flavoring
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 cups chopped pecans (plus pecan halves if you want to decorate the top)
- In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening and butter until flour is blended in and no large lumps are visible.
- Combine the whiskey (or vinegar) with buttermilk. Drizzle into flour mixture while tossing with a fork. Stir just until combined. Dough should easily hold together when you squeeze it. If mixture is too dry, add more buttermilk, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Either roll out half of the dough at a time between generously floured pieces of parchment OR separate the dough into 8 pieces and roll each between floured parchment. Either way, shape the dough into a ball, flatten with your hand, and roll out fairly thin, about ⅛-inch. Set mini pie pan (top inside dimension 4¼-inches) upside down on dough and circle about 1-inch larger than the pan all the way around. Cut out 8 circles, saving scraps to re-roll.
- Lift circles (use a dough scraper or large spatula if needed) and place in pans, easing them in to fit snugly. Fold the edges under and crimp or press with a fork.
- Brush the bottom of the crusts with whisked egg white, then move to the refrigerator while you make the filling.
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In a medium bowl combine maple syrup, corn syrup, white sugar, and brown sugar. Stir well.
- Add 3 eggs and one egg yolk, whiskey, maple flavoring, and salt. Stir.
- Add melted butter and pecans and stir well.
- Fill crusts with a generous ½ cup of filling - about ⅔ full, stirring the mixture in the bowl before you fill each crust, because the pecans will all float to the top.
- Place pies on baking sheets and bake approximately 30 minutes. Gently shake one of the pies. If there's a slight jiggle, that's okay, but if it's wiggly, let the pies cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the pies to cool completely on a rack.
- Serve, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They may be frozen, too.
In case you’re wondering, these work very well for tassies, too. The crust-to-filling ratio is different; you might want to cut the filling recipe in half. I’d test that theory, but I think I’ve had enough pecan pie to last me at least a week or two!