I’ve probably been eating pecan pie since I was in diapers. Nut allergies? Please. Southerners are weaned from the bottle with pecan pie, celebrate marriage with pecan pie, and say goodbye to their loved ones with pecan pie. When I was in my teens, I’d go to the Camellia Grill on Carrollton Avenue and sit at the counter for a burger, dressed (in New Orleans-ese that means with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo), cheese fries, and pecan pie, grilled on the flat top on both sides and then topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
That said, like most Louisianans, I ate the bulk of my pecan pie at the kitchen table surrounded by relatives and relations. Below is my recipe for pecan pie from my cookbook. I’m particularly loyal to Louisiana-grown ingredients, which is why in addition to Louisiana pecans I like to sweeten my pecan pie with cane syrup rather than corn syrup or molasses. Cane syrup gives this pie the earthiness of molasses minus its bitter qualities and is a whole lot more interesting, flavor-wise, than corn syrup. — Chef David Guas
Adapted from "Dam Good Sweet, Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth New Orleans Style" by David Guas.
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 5–7 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
- 1 large egg
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2⁄3 cup cane syrup, preferably Steen’s™ cane syrup
- 2⁄3 cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups pecan pieces
For the crust:
Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the smallest pieces are about the size of corn kernels, 10-12 pulses. Add 5 tablespoons of water and pulse until the dough is no longer dry (when squeezed in your hand, it should form a ball and hold its shape), 4-6 times (if the dough is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of ice water). Turn the dough out onto your work surface and form it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 1 month; defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using).
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (let it sit out at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften). Flour your work surface and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle, 1⁄8-inch thick. Fold the dough into quarters and transfer to a 9 ½-inch pie plate. Unfold the dough and fit it into the pie plate, then trim off all but ¼ inch of the overhang. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch the edge of the dough together to form a granny crimp. Chill while you make the filling.
For the filling:
Whisk the egg and the egg yolks together in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the cane syrup, sugar, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add the butter and melt over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, continue to cook the mixture until it is hot but not bubbling, about 1 minute. Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg yolks a little at a time, just until the bottom of the bowl is warm to the touch, and then add the remaining sugar mixture. Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
Take the pie plate out of the refrigerator. Sprinkle the pecan pieces into the piecrust and pour the filling on top. Bake until the center has a little resistance, like a soft-setting custard, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
Here's an interesting variation, Bourbon-Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie. Follow the recipe, but add 2 tablespoons of bourbon along with the vanilla to the hot egg-sugar base. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and place it in an ice-water bath to chill for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place 1 ¼ cups of pecans into the pie shell and top with an even layer of ½ cup of semisweet chocolate chips (or roughly chopped semisweet chocolate). Pour the slightly cooled filling into the shell and bake according to the recipe.