When I saw those beautiful pecans at the market the other day, I couldn’t pass them up. Pecans can be hard to find here, and while I’m usually all for local food, I just can’t find local pecans. They come whole, not shelled, so for two afternoons, I shucked my pecans. Thumbs raw and cut to shreds, and most of the pecans in pieces, I finally got all of the pecans separated from their shells this afternoon.

Though I love pecan pie (who am I kidding? All pie), I have never been particularly gifted with pie crusts. They tear or become tough or just fall apart. I’ve read countless articles trying to troubleshoot my pie crust which was suffering from any one of several possible problems. This is the first pie crust I have ever made which I haven’t botched. It came out tender and moist, and beautifully flaky. Even if you have horrible luck with pie crusts, give this a try. Just keep your hands, rolling pin, and counter lightly floured, and this is one pie crust that won’t let you down.

Ingredients for Crust:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup water

Preparation:

1.  Mix dry ingredients together.

2. Cut very cold butter into small pieces, and add to the flour, cutting in the butter until the pieces are all pea sized.

3. Slowly add in the water, and by hand, begin to bring the dough together. It may take more than half a cup, but add any extra water in by the tablespoon.

4. Once dough is pulled together, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the dough rest.

5. Roll out the dough using as little flour as possible. More flour will make for a tougher crust. Wrap the dough around your rolling pin to transfer it to your pie dish. Let the dough relax into the dish, and then using three fingers pinching the dough to crimp it. One finger will always be in the dent left by the other finger on your last pinch.

6. Place pie dish in the freezer while you assemble your filling.

Ingredients for Pie:

8 oz. pecans
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
8 oz. package light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
8 oz. dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 eggs

Preparation:

1. Melt butter in the microwave and set aside – it takes my microwave about a minute.

2. Check your pecans. Remove any unwanted brown pieces left over from the shells. Those will give a bitter taste to the pecans if left in the mix.

3. Pour brown sugar into a large bowl. Work out any lumps with the back of a spoon. If the brown sugar is too old and has become hard, microwave it for a few seconds to loosen it up while you’re working with it.

4. Add a heaping serving tablespoon of  flour and stir together until the white disappears into the brown sugar.

5. Add corn syrup. Then add 1 tablespoon of vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined.

6. Add melted butter. Pour it in slowly, and then bit by bit, fold together until the butter is no longer distinguishable from the rest of the mix.

7. In a separate bowl, crack open three eggs. Remove the white bits that hang off the yolks and loosely beat the eggs with your spoon. Don’t whip them until they froth.

8. Fold the eggs into the pie mixture until they disappear.

9. Add pecans and stir until each pecan has been coated in the mixture.

10. Remove your pie shells from the freezer. Pour the mixture evenly into the shells. Redistribute pecans if necessary to make pretty. (If you prefer, you can place the pecan halves on the pie shell, and then pour in the pie mix, and the pecans will float to the top. I’m just not too fussy about how the pecans lay.)

11. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 150C. Cook pies until they are set in the middle and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

12. Remove and cool for an hour. Store on the counter until time to serve.

Critic’s Comments:

“It’s like a perfectly cooked marshmallow {Me: What? You don’t like marshmallows!} No but its all gooey and molten like the inside of the marshmallow when its roasted.”

“It would be better with ice cream.”

He just spat a piece out, by the way, because it was too hot, making all sorts of pained faces and breathing out loudly through his mouth. He won’t wait to eat it. It’s a pretty good sign that this pecan pie will be requested again. He also can’t think of anything else to say past “molten caramely goodness.” I’m firing him as food critic. I will try to find a better food critic in Shanghai to comment on my food. Until I find someone who uses real words, he will have to suffice.

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