A+ Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

Yes, you want to make this recipe.  (No Jedi mind tricks needed. You should be persuaded simply by the title.)  The recipe may look long, but it’s actually pretty simple.

Pecan pie is a Southern specialty, but I find most recipes sickeningly sweet. This one has always been my favorite because it somehow cuts through the sweetness. This year, I decided to adapt it with chocolate and bourbon at my husband’s request, and I don’t think I can ever go back.  The dark chocolate, bourbon, and salt really pull back the sweetness of the Karo, and replacing some of the Karo with a high-quality honey with a mild flavor added a nice depth.

These pies are way better the second day, if you like a stronger taste of bourbon. If not, reduce the bourbon a little and/or eat the pies on the day you make them.

I never make my own pie crusts, but I make an exception here. You should too. The tutorial I cite below will give you the confidence to try, and this crust recipe is the perfect texture for a pie with this much sugar. I don’t think the thinner frozen pre-made crusts would compete.

Full disclosure: Base recipe can be found here, and my friend Mel suggested replacing half of the water in the crust with vodka. I don’t know why that works, but I suspect it allows the water to chill below its usual temperature – always a good thing for crust construction.

Crust tutorial: I found this post very helpful at “Eating from the Ground Up” for making a perfect crust via KitchenAid mixer.  Chilling the bowl & ingredients and freezing the crusts during and after rolling & placing into the pie plates worked perfectly. My crusts were not at all soggy. I do recommend leaving the crust out for a bit before rolling, because the huge amount of butter is solid and hard as a rock otherwise. (Though I persevered via marble rolling pin, a lot of determination, and the pressure of already being behind schedule.)

BOURBON CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE
Adapted from Robert Del Grande

Yield: 3
 nine-inch pies. You might squeeze this into 2 if you have huge pie plates. Crust definitely makes 3.

Pie Dough

About 4 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 pound cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup chilled water + vodka (equal portions of each)

Pecan Pie Filling
8 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons vanilla
1/3cup bourbon (a good one)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt (regular) + large granule sea salt for garnish
4 Tablespoons melted butter
2 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2cup honey (a quality one, not too heavy in flavor)
3 cups pecan pieces
2-3 cups chopped, very dark, very good quality chocolate

For the pie crust:
In a mixing bowl (or on a work surface), combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and butter. With your fingers or the beater, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add the chilled water/vodka to the flour mixture and work until a rough dough is formed. Do not over work the dough: bits of butter should still be visible.  
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface. Flatten and fold the dough several times to create layers in the dough (if working by hand). Divide the dough into 3 sections, form disks, and wrap in Saran-Wrap if not immediately rolling crusts. (I let mine chill a while.)

(Follow the tutorial I noted above throughout this process.)  
Roll each chunk into a circle with a diameter well in excess of that of the pie plate and approximately 1/4-inch thick. Fit the dough circles into the pie plates and form an edge. Chill very well in freezer until pies are ready to fill and bake.

For the Pecan Pie Filling,
Pre-heat an oven to 375°F.

in a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the vanilla, bourbon, brown sugar, salt and melted butter and whisk until well blended. Slowly blend in the corn syrup and honey and mix well.

Divide the pecan pieces and chocolate pieces between the three chilled pie shells. Divide the filling between the three pies. Sprinkle lightly with large-grain sea salt, if desired. 
Place the pies on baking sheets and bake at 375°F for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 300°F and bake until the pies have set and the center puff up a little, approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

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