pie

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

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Happy International Pi Day (a day early)! How will you celebrate?

Notice I didn’t ask whether you were celebrating. It’s implied. I mean, c’mon, it’s pie.

Last year my division held a pie happy hour — everything from pizza to fruit pie — and it was a lot of fun. This year, all of Edelman DC is having a pie tasting throw-down. In an office of 250, there are bound to be some amazing options. My entry: Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie. Extra-dark chocolate, buttery pecans, and just a bite of booze.

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I can’t speak for how the finished product actually tastes, but the bourbon-sugar mixture takes pretty great.

3/14 RHRW Update:I can now speak for the finished product. Great flavor, not too sweet. I baked the pie the night before and served it at room temperature, and while it isn’t overwhelming, you can definitely taste the bourbon (a good thing in my book).

3/16 RHRW Update: For traditional Southern pecan pie, omit the bourbon and chocolate.

When filling the pie, pour the sauce slowly, in a spiral motion, so the pecans stay in place and the filling is level.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out my other pie recipes:
Grasshopper Pie
Apple Pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
French Silk Pie
Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust

Grab some whipped cream and let’s get moving.

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

From Fine Cooking
Serves 8-10

1 pie crust
1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
8 large egg yolks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. Maker’s Mark bourbon (1 mini-bottle)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

RHRW Note: For traditional Southern pecan pie, omit bourbon and chocolate

Blind bake the pie crust: Roll out the crust to a 13″ diameter. Place in a 9″ pie plate, lifting the dough to tuck it into the sides of the pan. Trim edges to a 3/4″ overhang. Roll the dough under itself to build up the edge of the crust. Crimp the edge of the crust with your fingers, the tines of a fork, or a pie edger. Prick the crust all over (including sides) with a fork. Chill for up to 1 hour in the refrigerator or about 30 minutes in the freezer.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the crust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking until the bottom looks dry and the edges are golden, 5-7 minutes more. Cool on a rack.

When the crust is cool, spread the pecans evenly in the pie crust. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the pecans. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Make the filling: Put the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl set on a kitchen towel. Add the vanilla. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, cream, bourbon, and salt. Heat over medium heat just until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot but not boiling, 3-5 minutes. Whisking vigorously and constantly, very slowly pour the sugar mixture into the yolks. Strain through a fine strainer set over a 1-quart measuring cup.

Fill and bake the pie: Slowly pour the filling over the pecans. Put the pie on a large baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until the center of the pie is slightly firm to the touch and the filling is set, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before serving.

Classic Apple Pie

My boss’ birthday was a couple weeks ago, and unlike most of my coworkers, he doesn’t really care for cake or cookies. (Say whaaaaat?) He does, however, like pie — in particular, fruit pie.

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Fruit pies are best when the fruit is in season… which is hard to do in the middle of winter. Fortunately, good apples are available year-round, and apple pie is pretty easy. I used pre-made pie crusts this time, but we’ll save a pie crust lesson for a future post.

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Classic Apple Pie

2 pie crusts
5 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (about 2 pounds)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
Cooking spray
1 TBS unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 TBS milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit one crust into a standard 9″ pie crust coated with cooking spray.

Place apples in a large bowl. Combine sugar, flour and spices and sprinkle over apples, tossing to coat. Spoon over prepared pie plate. Dot with butter and drizzle with vanilla. Top with remaining pie crust. Press edges together, fold excess crust under, and flute the edges. Brush surface with milk. Cut three one-inch slits into the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until apples are tender.

Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust

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Ready to take your pie-making to the next level? Game on, kids.

This pork and apple pie is a show-stopper, but really not all that difficult. The flavors and textures are really fantastic together. If you don’t like sage — which personally is not my favorite — feel free to omit it, and you’ll still have a really flavorful dish.

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This is a basic butter pie crust, with some cheese folded in. Get the butter really cold (try putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes after you cube it) and don’t let the dough get too warm.

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When choosing apples, go for larger fruit in varieties that will hold their shape, like Granny Smith or Pink Lady. Slice them thinly for easy arranging.

Serve the pie warm or at room temperature, and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Pork and Apple Pie with Cheddar-Sage Crust

Adapted from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook

Serves 8-10

2 1/2 cups (350 g) flour, plus a little more
2 tsp dried sage, finely crumbled (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3 oz (85 g) sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
6-8 TBS ice water
2 pounds firm apples (4-6 large) – try Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jazz, Golden Delicious, or other firm fruit
2 TBS vegetable oil (or other cooking oil of your choice)
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground pork (15-17% fat)
1 TBS firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 TBS plain breadcrumbs
1 egg blended with 1 TBS water
Fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sage, and salt until well-combined. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour mixture and use your fingers to work them in until the mixture looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining. Stir in the cheese with a fork. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons ice water over the mixture and stir with a fork until the dough begins to come together. If needed, add an additional tablespoon or two of ice water. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead three times. Gather the dough into a ball, then divide into two portions, making one slightly larger than the other. Press each portion down into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Core and thinly slice the apples to no more than 1/4″ thickness (no need to peel). In a skillet over medium-low heat, cook the apples without any oil, stirring gently, until they just begin to soften, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside. Add oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add pork, brown sugar, salt, and spices. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until it is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let the meat mixture cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse five times until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.

Unwrap the larger disk of dough and put it in the center of a large sheet of wax or parchment paper. Cover with another piece of wax or parchment paper. Working from the center, roll outward to a 13” circle. Peel off the top piece of parchment and transfer the dough to a pie plate, peeled side down. Peel off the remaining parchment and press the crust into the sides of a 9” deep-dish pie plate. Peel off the remaining parchment and press the crust into the sides of the pie plate, draping any excess over the edge. Repeat the process with the smaller disk, making an 11″ circle. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and set a rack to the second to bottom position. Pour the meat mixture into the bottom crust and gently smooth the top with a spatula. Arrange the cooked apple slices over the meat, pressing down to make the whole construction as smooth and neat as possible. Peel the top sheet of parchment off the top crust. Transfer to the pie, then peel off the remaining parchment. Using a sharp knife, make two 3” slashes in the crust to allow steam to escape. Fold the edges of the bottom crust up over the top crust and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the crust with the egg wash and decorate with sage leaves, if desired.

Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake until the crust is golden brown, 25-35 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool 25 minutes before serving.