Making pecan pie, a Southern classic, made me think of the Southern side of the family and some of their funny sayings. If your family has a Southern side, you're sure to have heard some of these: dadgummit, dadburnit, looks like the north end of a southbound donkey, looks like somethin' the cat drug up, higher than a Georgia pine (drunk), just talks to keep her head from rattlin', crookeder than a barrel of snakes, sillier than a pet coon. I'd like to make a whole collection of these Southern sayings, so send me yours! (I have a whole other collection from the English side of the family!)
I developed this pecan pie recipe to suit my husband--you see, he has "texture issues." You might find it too heavy on the nuts and light on the filling, but that's what he likes. And it has significantly less sugar than most. So if you're one of those people who doesn't eat pecan pie because it is too sweet, this one might change your mind.
For those who like to eat with the seasons, pecan pie is the quintessential autumn pie. And it doesn't take a lot of time to make, especially if you make your pastry ahead of time and refrigerate it (for a few days) or freeze it (for a few months). I usually have a few disks of pastry in the freezer. Then I just move one or two to the refrigerator the day before I'll be making a pie.
(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 to 12 servings)
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell in glass pie plate
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 packed cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup real maple syrup (Grade B, preferably)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) chopped pecans
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Get pie shell ready and keep it in refrigerator until filling is ready. In 2-quart Pyrex glass measure, melt butter in microwave. Add brown sugar, sugar and salt to warm melted butter; mix well. Add hot water, stirring until sugar is dissolved (mashing out any lumps), and maple syrup. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well, until mixture is very smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie shell.
2 Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 30 minutes, or until center of pie puffs up and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The center should feel set yet soft when pressed lightly.
3 Cool on wire rack at room temperature for at least 4 hours. If you make it a day or two ahead, refrigerate it until 2 hours before serving time; allow it to come to room temperature. Or warm at 275 degrees for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into 8 wedges and serve with a dollop of unsweetened or barely sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Pastry (food processor* method)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.
2 In cup, combine lemon juice or vinegar and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough will clump together; do not over-process. (The amount of water you will need depends on your climate and the moisture content of your flour. You may not need to use quite as much water as I do.)
3 Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten slightly into a 4-inch round disk; double wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to three days. (Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling.) Place in 9-inch Pyrex pie plate and keep in refrigerator until filling is ready.
* I have the DLC-10E, which (understandably after all this time) is no longer available. See Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless and other currently available models.