OK, actually let's talk pecan pie!
Milk Chocolate Pecan Pie!!!!
I learned how to make pecan pie when I was in junior high. It was my Dad's favorite kind of pie during the holidays but, my Mom doesn't like nuts so she didn't make it. If we ever had one, it was bought from the store. One year I decided to figure out how to bake it. It's really not that hard. My Dad said that my first attempt was the best pecan pie he'd ever had. I think that's really sayin' something because my Grammy (his Mom) is a great cook! I've made this pie every year since Dave and I got married.
It's taken some tweaking to figure out how I like it best. It turns out, my favorite variation involves milk chocolate chips. At this point, I figure that it's too good to NOT share!
I want to preface this by saying one thing. You can TOTALLY "cheat" and use the refrigerated crusts that the grocery store sells (the kind you unroll... NOT the frozen ones.) I don't. I like making the pastry. I think it's fun and it's really NOT hard. The ones you make yourself taste a LOT better too. The only recommendation I'd make is DON'T use the graham crackery (ie. NOT in the fridge section of the grocery store) kind of crust. I know people who've done that and the result is gross. Never wreck a great filling with a bad pastry. That sort of crust is alright when you're talking about pies that are served chilled (think cheesecake or french silk) but, NOT OK for pecan pie ok?
Let's start with the recipe for the pastry! You can use it for all kinds other pies (Pumpkin anyone?!) so, keep this one handy!
Pastry for Single Crust Pie
Here's what you'll need:
1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Cup shortening (butter flavored Crisco works the BEST!)
4 to 5 Tbsp cold water
1. In a medium bowl stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size. (If you don’t have a pastry blender, a couple butter knives works just as well!)
|This is a pastry blender. This particular one costs about $4|
That's not pricey! It's worth getting one if you like making pastries!
2. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the water over part of the flour mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened pastry to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening pastry flour mixture, using 1 Tbsp of water at a time, until all the flour mixture is moistened. Form pastry into a ball. (Think PlayDoh! And don't rush this part. Getting this part right will make this pie to die for!)
3. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten pastry. Roll pastry from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.
4. Wrap pastry around the rolling pin. Unroll into a 9 inch pie plate. Ease into pie plate without stretching it. (Be careful! Keeping it even and not stretching it will ensure even baking and keep your slices prettier!)
5. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of pie plate. Fold under extra pastry. Do not prick pastry.(If you use a refrigerated crust, you DO have to prick holes in the bottom!) Fill and bake as directed in all recipes.
OK now we're gettin' to the good stuff!
Milk Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 Single Crust Pie (Again, the Pillsbury ones work well but, I like to make it myself. Don't be intimidated. TRY IT!)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 Cup light-colored corn syrup
2/3 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup butter, melted
3 tsp. vanilla (Use real vanilla not imitation!)
1 1/4 Cup pecan halves (Don't chop/crush them! Leave them halved!)
1/2 Cup milk chocolate pieces (Use Hershey’s! Don't even try to tell me that other brands taste the same cuz they totally DON'T. And double check that you're using MILK CHOCOLATE and not SEMI-SWEET. It's NOT the same!)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare and roll out pie crust. Line a 9 inch pie plate with the pastry circle and trim. Crimp edges as desired. (Be creative! There are some pretty crust embellishing techniques for the edges. Find one you really like and practice.)
2. For filling, in a medium bowl combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in pecan halves.
3. Press 1/2 Cup milk chocolate pieces into the bottom of the pastry.
4. Place the pastry-lined pie plate on the oven rack. Carefully pour the filling into the pastry shell. (This is to keep you from spilling on the counter AND from having to pick up a really liquidy pie and carry it across the the kitchen to your oven and spilling all over the floor. Filling your pie while it's sitting on the rack is the new black!) To prevent over browning, cover edge of pie with foil. (Be careful not to mess up your edges!) Bake about 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes more or until a knife inserted near the center come out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill within 2 hours.
pitchable pie tins fold up and lose shape. You can get a good Pyrex one for under $10 and it'll last forever! Trust me, you're gonna want to make this pie every year for Thanksgiving. So, take the money you'd spend on the throw-aways and get a good pie plate that you'll use for the rest of your life! DO follow the directions about filling it when the pie plate is sitting on the rack in the oven. Those racks slide out for a reason! Use 'em!
******These two recipes are adapted from The Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook... meaning I do things a little differently than they would but, we're still basically following their directions. The commentary in italics is my own.******