One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving, Christmas and generally, during this time of the year is having the warm and inviting smell of ingredients such as apple, cinnamon, pumpkin and nutmeg fill your house when you are baking, and pie seems like one of the obvious choices. While my other favorite food smells are that of basil and berries, I’m just never in a mood to get near an oven long enough in the summer for some sort of a berry pie, preferring to have them in their original light and refreshing form.
My original plan this Thanksgiving was to bake a pumpkin pie and an apple dessert – but given that two people specifically requested pecan, I decided to give up my apple plans until later and make a pecan pie instead. I followed Alton Brown’s recipe because the idea of spiced pecans appealed to me – I love cumin and cayenne, and I wondered what they would taste like in a dessert. Answer – a great combination along with dark brown sugar. The other reason I liked this recipe was because it used golden syrup, made of natural cane sugar, which tastes so much better than the corn syrup that most pecan pies have, which gives them that sickeningly sweet flavor (I’ve been in this country for 4 years now, and I still detest corn syrup as much as I did when I first came here). Finally, there’s just a splash of bourbon in this recipe, which you can increase either by adding more in the filling or in the pie crust in place of icy cold water.
I did however, use a different pie crust recipe, but for those who are interested, click on the link below as Alton Brown also offers a recipe for the pie crust that itself has ground pecans in it. Maybe something to try next time!
Source – Modified from Alton Brown on Food Network
Spiced Pecans (enough for 2 fillings):
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pound pecan halves
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 large eggs
- 3 1/2 ounces sugar
- 6 ounces golden syrup (such as Lyle’s)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces Spiced Pecans, recipe bellow, coarsely chop 6 ounces and leave the remaining 2 ounces whole
For making spiced pecans:
- Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Mix the salt, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and orange peel together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Place the nuts in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes until they just start to brown and smell toasted. Add the butter and stir until it melts. Add the spice mixture and stir to combine. Once combined, add both sugars and water, stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the nuts, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the nuts to the prepared sheet pan and separate them with a fork or spatula. Allow the nuts to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container for storage. Can be stored for up to 3 weeks.
For making the pie:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Whisk the eggs, sugar, golden syrup, butter, bourbon, vanilla and salt together until combined. Set aside.
- Evenly sprinkle the 6 ounces of chopped pecans in the crust and pour the filling on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Place the remaining 2 ounces of whole pecans in a border on the edge of the filling. Bake 10 minutes, until the center of the pie should reach 200 degrees F, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack to room temperature before serving, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.