I got a little ahead of myself this week. I was dreaming of creamy mac and cheese, moist turkey, crunchy roasties and juicy pigs in blankets. I’m not sure if Thanksgiving includes pigs in blankets, but if not, the American’s are missing out.
In my mind, Thanksgiving was this Thursday. In anticipation and excitement (not that I celebrate Thanksgiving, but if the American’s are eating a feast then I’d like to join in) I baked a pecan pie. Although prior to yesterday I’d never made a pecan pie before, I decided to mix it up a little. I wanted to achieve the taste of the mini pecan pies Gails bakery have on offer. Pecans were the only nut I used but added chunks of dark chocolate and the juice and zest of an orange. Once the pie has been baked, the chocolate melts a little and seeps through the pie, infusing every slice with flavours of rich dark chocolate. Ever since I cracked open my first Terry’s chocolate orange I was sold on the combination. The sweet and sharp orange provides a fruity flavour to the pie – it’s like eating mincemeat without any of the devil dried fruit.
A pecan pie is best served warm. The filling is gooey and crunchy from the pecans. When eaten with a scoop of ice cream, the hot and cold contrast plays with your senses, whilst the ice cream slowly melts and merges with the sticky filling. It’s essentially a perfect bowl of sugar.
There’s something about making a pie that is satisfying and rewarding. It’s a long process and watching each aspect come together from making the pastry, rolling it out, melting the butter to crushing the pecans is exciting and fills me with anticipation. Carrying the pie, dusted with icing sugar to the table and placing it right in the centre is the most rewarding part. The stares of admiration and silence as it’s being devoured is just as delicious as the pie its self.
The Recipe (Adapted from BBC Good Food)
300g plain flour
75g butter, cubed
100g cream cheese
1 tbsp. icing sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
200ml maple syrup
350g light brown soft sugar
Juice and zest of 1 orange
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla essence
400g pecans, roughly chopped with a few left whole
200g dark chocolate chunks
– To make the pastry, place the flour, butter, cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl. Add the salt and mix by hand or in a machine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
– Add a few tbsp. of water a little at a time until the mixture comes together to form a dough.
– Bring together and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
– Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
– Lightly flour a work surface and roll the chilled pastry out till it is 5mm thick.
– Line a 23cm fluted tin with the pastry.
– Prick the pastry base all over with a fork.
– Place baking parchment on top of the pastry and top with baking beans.
– Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
– Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes until golden.
– Now make the filling. Place the butter, syrup, sugar and orange juice and zest in a pan.
– Once the butter has melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool.
– In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla essence, chopped pecans and dark chocolate chunks.
– Mix in with the melted butter mixture.
– Turn the oven down to 160 degrees.
– Pour the filling into the pastry case.
– Top with the whole pecans and bake for 50 minutes until set.
– Eat warm with ice cream.