Out of all the pies out there, this pecan pie is hands down my favourite. The key to this pie is the vanilla bean: it is literally deep fried in butter. This goes on until the butter is nut brown and the tiny vanilla seeds are dispersed like dark stars in a golden galaxy. There’s some dark chocolate sprinkled in, which along with the aforementioned butter plus three eggs, turns into a soft layer of pudding beneath the plank of crispy pecans.
Pecan pie can be expensive to make, so I usually source pecans from bulk buy places. (I get mine from Kakulas Sisters. The corn syrup I get from the local Korean grocer.) This pie doesn’t have to be topped with whole pecans – in fact, it’s a really vain thing to do because whole nuts make the pie incredibly hard to cut into clean portions. So if you want an easy-to-cut pie, go chopped pecans all the way. However if you want a good looking pie, the hardest part about the pie is actually arranging the nuts in a pattern that may or may not stay in place when the syrup is poured in. (I am screaming inside when the nuts float out of place. Drives me crazy. I need to learn to LET IT GO.)
I like to serve creme fraiche alongside. It sounds weird to eat pie with soured cream, but it is ridiculously good as the tang cuts through the sweetness, resulting in the able consumption of even more pie.
Apart from the pastry (and arranging those nuts) this one’s easy as (pie! Sorry couldn’t resist.). So much so, I do not eat those dingy stale pies from cafes no more. I’ll be on the couch, in my pyjamas, eating this pie thank you very much.
It’s also really good just warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream. Of course, you already knew that. In Australia, Karo corn syrup tends to be the only brand widely available and it’s expensive. I buy corn syrup from the Korean supermarket instead.
Serves at least 9.
1 shortcrust pastry disk
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans plus 1 – 2 cups of whole pecans
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
60 g butter, unsalted
180 g brown sugar
240 ml (1 cup) light corn syrup
big pinch of salt
130 g dark chocolate chips
creme fraiche, to serve
optional: 1 tbsp softened butter and 1 tbsp flour, to line tart tin
If the pastry needs rolling out, take it out 10 minutes prior. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Preparing the tin is especially important for tarts, as they tend to get stuck. Use a pastry brush to work softened or melted butter around the sides of the tin and into the grooves, and while you’re at it, paint the the loose bottom. Line the loose bottom with baking paper. Dust flour around the sides of the buttered tin and you’re done.
Lightly knead the pastry until it’s pliable but still cool. Roll out to half a centimetre thick and carefully lay over the tart tin, gently pushing the pastry into the tart tin and up the sides. Trim the excess. Freeze the pastry shell (this can be done in advance) while putting together the filling.
Spread the chopped nuts in a roasting tin and pop it into the oven for five minutes.
Take the nuts out of the oven to cool. Meanwhile, add the vanilla bean and butter to a saucepan and heat until the butter is nut brown. (The butter may sputter so be careful.) (And your house should smell amazing at this point.) Note: you do not want burnt butter.
Once the butter and its milk solids turn a golden colour, take it off the heat to cool slightly. Fish out the vanilla bean and discard.
In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt to combine. Whisk in the melted butter. Add the eggs and whisk to combine.
Spread the chopped pecans over the base of the pastry shell, followed by the dark chocolate chips. Arrange the whole pecans over the top. Slowly but surely, pour over the syrupy batter over the assembled filling. A few of the nuts will float out of place, but it will come good when baked.
Bake for 45 minutes, turning the tart halfway so the crust browns evenly. When the tart is cool, remove from the tin. Serve with a big dollop of creme fraiche, pyjamas and a chick flick.
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