More butter, less syrup (and maybe a touch of booze) help the nuts shine
Creamy filling: The point is to make the pecans the star. The filling is best as the supporting cast. Add a flaky but crisp crust to contrast the creamy filling. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
1 prepared pie dough for single crust 9-inch pie, see recipe below
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups broken pecans
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out and place pie dough in a 9-inch pie pan. Place butter in microwave-safe medium bowl; microwave on high heat until melted, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and salt; beat with wooden spoon until mixed. Beat in eggs until sugar is dissolved and mixture is fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in corn syrup and vanilla until smooth.
2. Place nuts on bottom of pie crust. Pour filling over. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake pie until center of filling is just set, 50-60 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.
Per serving: 561 calories, 36 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 93 mg cholesterol, 59 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 284 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.
Maple pecan pie:
Use maple syrup in place of corn syrup.
Chocolate pecan pie:
Stir 6 ounces chocolate chips into the filling before baking.
And for the crust
Chef Evan Kleiman of Angeli Caffe in Los Angeles uses this easy-to-work-with pie dough for her pies:
3-2-1 ratio pie dough
Mix 2 cups flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a bowl. Work 1 cup butter (or lard or vegetable shortening) into the flour, using your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of the dough looks like crumbs the size of peas but some of the fat is still in bigger clumps, about the size of shelled almonds. Mix 1/2 cup cold water in a cup with 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice; add to the dough 1 tablespoon at a time, using a fork to mix, just until the dough holds together. Gently and quickly knead the dough. Divide into two disks; wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator to rest, at least 1 hour. Or freeze the dough for later. Makes enough for two 9-inch pies.
Myth or fact?
"Most pecan pie recipes in the twentieth century date from the 1930s and all call for Karo corn syrup. Perhaps Karo's claim that a salesman's wife invented pecan pie as a 'new use for corn syrup' in the 1930s is true. Just as Santa's suit is red because of a Coca-Cola advertising campaign, Karo may be responsible for an American classic, not to mention a holiday staple."
— Lucy Lean, author of "Made in America: Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food"