I made two apple crostatas, one vanilla bean cheesecake with caramel sauce and candied pecans, two pumpkin/sweet potato pies and one pecan pie for Thanksgiving. The day after, I had to make another pecan pie, because it was all gone. There is just something about that dessert - it makes people happy, it is an extremely traditional, almost sickening hallmark of any meal. And when it is done right, there's nothing I'd rather be eating.
Thanksgiving was a trip this year. Colorful, is the word I'd use if I was a dainty seventy-seven year old woman trying to dance around people and their personality quirks, that can lie dormant for 364 days but if a turkey is present, so is someone's chance for maximum fits. The good news is, the main offender(s) are either not related to me, or I only see them once or twice a year. I learn so much about my family, good and bad, on holidays. It makes me love them more, after I'm done wanting to throw down.
I also learned that I have no tolerance for 10 year olds who are mean to or careless with small animals. I don't know what boxcar I'm going to have to spray paint this on, but for future reference: If you fuck with my dog, you are inviting the wrath. That's my hostess gift to you, pre-teen. Thanks for, when asked to stop lugging her around and instead take her downstairs, standing above the stairs and throwing my 10 year old, 10 pound dog a good six feet to the hardwood floor below, into a room full of horrified people.
But let's end this nicely. This recipe is the result of miscalculating the amount of pecans I had on hand. Walnuts are not only a fantastic substitute, they elevate this pie to a new level. The walnuts and their dark, oily richness, that creamy, vanilla-y custard studded with the faint, nutty sweetness of pecans, the crisp crust that leaves shards of buttery flakes in the pan, it is delicious. It gets better the next day. As do memories of Thanksgiving.
Pecan and Walnut Pie
1 1/2 cups Dark Karo Syrup
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar
3 Tablespoons muscavado or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 unbaked pie crust (I use this recipe, which produces two crusts. You can use your favorite, storebought, whatever tickles you)
3/4 cup pecan halves
1 1/2 heaping cups walnut pieces
Roll out your pie crust, if you haven't already, and gently drape into your chosen pie plate - I use a Pyrex one for this recipe, which really browns the crust. Let the crust form within the confines of the pan, don't tug or stretch. Use your fingers to lightly press into place, if you need to. Trim any ridiculous excess, and roll the remaining overhang under. Crimp, press, 'V' the crust however you like.
Freeze the unbaked crust, in the pan, for at least fifteen minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, crack the eggs and poke the yolks with a fork or whisk. Add the Karo syrup, sugars, vanilla and salt, and whisk until completely smooth, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl if you need to.
Remove the now-frozen pie crust, and set on a half-sheet pan. Dump the walnuts and pecan halves in the bottom of the crust, and pour the egg/syrup/sugar mixture over the top. The nuts should float to the top within a minute or so, but if they're lagging behind, use a fork to gently jostle them. Place the pie, still on the sheet pan, in the oven. If you're using a Pyrex or other glass dish, I would leave the oven door open for thirty or forty seconds, so that the temperature change isn't drastic enough to crack the ice-cold glass. Shut the door, and bake for 45 minutes.
Open the oven, and give the sheet pan a little shake. The center of the pie should still jiggle and move easily. Remove from the oven, and place the pie back inside, sans sheet pan. Bake for another ten minutes. At this point, the pie should be almost completely set. Remove from oven, and carefully set on a trivet or cooling rack.
You just made that. Be glad. Be proud. Let it cool for at least four hours, but I like to try and go overnight if I can. Serve in wedges, with barely sweetened whipped cream, and die happy.