Did anyone ever think I could draw out planned pie baking for so many posts? Nope? Me either.
Good news! The first of my new tools have arrived chosen for their combination of form, function, price, and quality of company.
Up first, a handleless rolling pin of the French, tapered-end variety. We own the Shaker, straight version but it is simply too far removed from the crust and too bulky for me to easily manipulate. I have high hopes for this Fletcher’s Mill, under $15, maple rolling pin, with a lifetime guarantee.
Second, a secret ingredient. This is where I give my big secret away–my intended pie recipe. When I decided to make a chocolate pecan pie, I knew the only thing about them I’ve liked in the past is the chocolate-ness. Usually they are sickeningly sweet. I scoured the internet for less sweet, bittersweet, and healthier (chocolate) pecan pie alternatives. I decided that although I may prefer and be willing to gamble on a recipe that omits sugar or corn syrup in favor of some maple syrup type of recipe, it seemed too far of a departure from a traditional pecan pie to bring to Thanksgiving. With those recipes out, I narrowed the search to recipes with tolerable amounts of sugar. Based on the other recipes I’ve read, I think I can safely cut down on the sugar in my chosen recipe even more. Which, of course, begs the question, why else did I choose it?
The answer is, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is a rockstar. Go on. Take a look at her recipe for pecan pie here. No time? Just don’t care that much? Here are the spoilers aka genius tips taken directly from her.
1. Toast your nuts! You must, you must. Do you want it to taste intensely like pecans, or just a caramel crunch? Toast your nuts.
2. Dark brown sugar trumps light brown because more molasses, more flavor.
3. Golden syrup tastes amazing here, and is worth the trouble of tracking it down. (See more, below.)
4. If you use golden syrup, do not add more than a pinch of salt. It contains a bit of sodium, more than corn syrup, and I’ve learned the hard way.
5. A tiny bit of cider vinegar (trust me) really helps balance out the aching sweetness of a gooey caramel pie.
6. Finally, if you gild the lily (of course you do), add some chocolate: After rolling out and parbaking your crust (if desired), place it in the freezer until solid, about 15 minutes. Melt 4 ounces of semi- or bittersweet chocolate chunks with 1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream until smooth. Spread over bottom of cooled crust. Freeze the crust again until the chocolate is solid, about another 20 minutes, before pouring in pecan mixture.
So, eagle-eyes, do you spy what I spy? GOLDEN SYRUP? What the heck is that? Well, seeing as I’m now the proud importer of such golden syrup, let us refer back again to Deb’s wisdom on the subject.
Golden syrup a light treacle or cane sugar syrup and if that didn’t sound delicious enough, it’s lightly toasted with a pinch of salt, giving it a caramel-ish vibe that’s so incredible, it’s no wonder it’s not just used as a sweetener in candies but straight out of the bottle over pancakes and hot cereal. (Something that would be flat-out gross with corn syrup.) In a classic pecan pie? Incomparable. A UK product, it’s becoming more and more available in the U.S. as people look for corn syrup alternatives. It’s easy to buy online, and if you have a local store that reliably sells it, give it a shout in the comments and I’ll try to make a list.
Thanks again Smitten Kitchen. Stay tuned for the final new baking instruments and maybe one day, before Thanksgiving, I’ll actually make it into the kitchen.