Like Pecan Pies? I do and I’ve been working on a way to make one that doesn’t involve using corn syrup. It’s taken a few years to perfect this recipe. The family Thanksgiving dinner each year is about the only time I make one, so the testing and revision cycle is a bit extended.
I should also explain that the reason I want to avoid corn syrup is primarily for the taste. I loathe the stuff and always have. I’ve avoided it for years, even before research began to show that HFCS was bad for you. I’m by no means claiming that this pecan pie is healthy – it still contains massive amounts of sugar. So bake and eat at your own risk.
In place of corn syrup, I’ve used another type of invert sugar – cane syrup. I get this at the local farmers market but it should also be available in most grocery stores that carry organic products. Because one of my goals was to avoid the super-sweet machine-made flavor of corn syrup, I’ve opted to combine the cane syrup with a small amount of molasses. Molasses is actually the waste product of producing cane syrup and other refined cane sugars; all the vitamins, minerals, and taste ends up in the molasses while most of the pure sugar ends up in the syrup. By putting a little molasses in, you get a much darker, more complex taste. The exact ratio of cane syrup to molasses is something you’ll want to adjust to your own taste. The Rum and brown sugar were chosen for the same reasons, they add a bit more complexity to the taste.
You can also change the sweetness a bit by adjusting the ratio of pecans to filling. For a sweeter pie reduce the number of pecans to a single layer on the surface. To decrease the sweetness, increase the number of pecans so that about half the thickness of the pie is pecans.
Also, one note on the Cinnamon is due; I’m using true cinnamon, aka Ceylon cinnamon. If you’re using grocery store Cinnamon (actually called Cassia), then you’ll probably want to use only 1 teaspoon or leave it out altogether. The tastes are quite different. If you’re not sure which you have, you have Cassia, it’s the substance most commonly sold as “cinnamon” in grocery stores. And if you’ve never tasted true cinnamon, I highly recommend buying some and trying it out.
Ok, so on to the actual recipe.
Steevithak’s Pecan Pie
Revision 2.0 [2011-11-21]
1 Cup Cane syrup
2/3 Cup brown sugar
4 Tablespoon melted butter
1 Tablespoon dark rum
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups broken pecans
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 9 inch unbaked pie shell
Pre-heat to 350 degrees, use rack in middle of oven
Prep fresh pecans:
Bring pan of water to boil. Blanch pecans in boiling water for 1 minute. Oils that lead to bitter pecans will form a dark scum on surface of water. Remove pecans and rinse well. Toast pecans at 350 F for 10-15 minutes.
Construct the crust
Combine two pie shells for double thickness to help offset sweetness of pie. If you’d prefer, you can also make your own crust. This is left as an exercise for the reader.
Make the filling
Microwave cane syrup in 30 second bursts, or set in a saucepan of warm water, until the syrup is pourable
Combine the syrup, brown sugar, melted butter, rum, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and molasses in a large sauce pan. Heat to boiling point, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.
While syrup cools, beat eggs in a separate bowl until creamy. When the syrup has cooled below boiling, stir in the beaten eggs and broken pecans.
Bake the pie
Pour mixture into pie shell, add pecan halves on top by hand. Add aluminium foil to cover exposed pie crust around edge. Bake for about 50 to 55 minutes. The pie is done when the top layer forms a deep golden brown crust that is firm when tapped. Aluminium foil may be removed during last 15 minutes for a more well done crust edge.