Southern Pecan Praline Pie

This was my new favorite recipe from Thanksgiving. Thankfully, many guests were more interested in the cream and lemon pies more than this one, leaving this heavenly thing to just a few hands. I’m resisting making it again until Christmas, because I know I would eat it all in one sitting, but this is a really great recipe. I’ve taken it from America’s Test Kitchen’s 2007 Annual.

Southern Pecan Praline Pie

Crust
1 1/4 c. flour
2 T. dark brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
8 T. butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces
3-4 T. ice water

Filling
8 T. unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 t. salt
3 large eggs
3/4 c. dark corn syrup
1 T. vanilla extract
2 T. bourbon (I left this out)
2 c. whole pecans, toasted, cooled, and broken into small pieces (you can toast in a skillet over med.-high heat for 8-10 min., or in a 350 degree oven for about the same amount of time–until they are fragrant)

For the Crust
1. Process the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl (I don’t have a food processor, so I do this with a pastry blender–you can also do it with your fingers–which works really well if you are using frozen butter).
2. Sprinkle 3 T. of ice water over the mixture and stir and press the dough together using a stiff rubber spatula until the dough sticks together. If the dough does not come together, stir in the remaining 1 T. water until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains. Turn the dough out onto the counter and flatten into a 4″ disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.
3. Remove dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s about a 12″ circle and 1/8″ thick. Transfer to a 9″ pie plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then freeze for 20 more (this preserves the shape by baking, but not much is lost if you don’t have time–or if you just want to leave it in the fridge a couple of hours instead).
4. When ready to bake (this means you are ready to complete the whole pie–see below), place the oven rack in the middle, and preheat the oven to 375. Line the dough with aluminum foil and place dry beans or pie weights in the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and set. Cool on a rack.
For the Filling
5. Lower the oven temp to 275.
6. Cook butter, brown sugar and salt together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is melted and butter absorbed, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the corn syrup, vanilla, and bourbon, if using. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is glossy and warm to the touch, about 4 minutes. (Do not overheat). Remove from heat and stir in pecans.
7. Pour the filling in the warm shell (needs to be warm) and bake until the center feels set yet soft, like jello, when pressed, 45-60 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool for 4 hours, to completely set the pie, before serving.

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