26 November 2008

Thanksgiving Day Pecan Pie

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a holiday usually hosted at our house. I have wonderful memories of waking up early to help my mom prepare and stuff the bird, make the sweet potato pudding and set the table with a festive decor. Friends and family would come from far and wide to feast at our table and it was always a joyous occasion.

This is a tradition that I have carried on since we have arrived in France, even though it is obviously not a widely celebrated holiday here. In fact, my son brought home a colorfully decorated turkey collage yesterday; he was complimented on it by a woman in the street and our pharmacist on the way home, one of whom said "ah, what a lovely duck you have there," the other mistook it for an owl!

We will be dining this weekend at a friend's house -- this is the first time in I don't know how long that I haven't prepared the meal myself. Even last year when my daughter was only two months old, we hosted 8 adults and 8 kids for Thanksgiving lunch. I will be bringing the sweet potato pudding this year -- which is an old family recipe: a delicious purée topped with toasted marshmallows. And of course, a pecan pie...primarily for my husband who isn't too big on Thanksgiving to begin with and this is usually the only way I can coax him into joining in the festivities.

For those of you who are still looking for a dessert for your Thanksgiving celebration, here is a recipe for the BEST pecan pie you will ever taste (I will upload a photo of mine once I have made it on Friday). I have it from Peter Kump's Cooking School in Manhattan and it is wonderfully easy (only problem is that it calls for dark corn syrup, which I will be trekking halfway across Paris to buy tomorrow for the insane amount of 7+ euros at the only place I know of that stocks it: Thanksgiving - an aptly named store). Enjoy and Happy Turkey Day to all!

Thanksgiving Day Pecan Pie:
One batch Sweet Pastry Dough for a 1 crust pie (see below)

1 cup dark brown corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp. butter
3 large eggs
pinch salt
2 tbsp. Bourbon
2 cups pecan halves or pieces, or a combination

1. Prepare and chill the dough

2. For the filling. combine corn syrup and sugar in saucepan and stir to mix. Place over low heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. Remove from heat, add butter and allow to melt. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs to break up and whisk in salt and Bourbon. Whisk in syrup and butter mixture, being careful not to over mix. Allow to cool while preparing bottom crust.

3. Preheat oven to 350F/180C and set a rack in the lowest level. For the crust, lightly flour the work surface and the dough and roll it to a 12-inch disk. Fold the dough in half and place it in the pan; unfold the dough and press it firmly in the pan. Trim away all but 1/2-inch excess dough at edge of pan. Fold dough under and flute edge.

4. Arrange pecans in crust. Skim foam from top of filling (or the top will have an unattractive mottled surface) and pour over pecans. With the back of a fork, press the pecans down into the filling so they are immersed.

5. Bake the pie for about 45 minutes, until the crust is baked through and the filling is set and well puffed in the center. Cool the pie on a rack, and serve warm or at room temperature. Delicious accompanied with vanilla ice cream!

Sweet Pastry Dough or Pate Sucrée (for a 1 crust pie):
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick)cold unsalted butter
1 large egg

To mix the dough by hand, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Cut butter into 1-tbsp. pieces and add to dry ingredients. Toss to coat pieces of butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the dry ingredients by breaking into tiny pieces, continuously pinching and squeezing it into the dry ingredients. Keep the mixture uniform by reaching down to the bottom of the bowl and mixing all ingredients evenly together. Continue rubbing until mixture resembles coarse-ground cornmeal and no large pieces of butter remain visible. Beat the egg in a small bowl and pour over the flour/butter mixture. Stir in with a fork, continuing to stir until the dough begins to hold together, but still appears somewhat dry. Scatter flour on a work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Press and knead the dough quickly 3-4 times until it is smooth.

Both recipes copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1996, all rights reserved.

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