Monday, December 26, 2011

Tasty Bites: Pecan pie (sans corn syrup) with whole wheat crust

Pecan pie is my new favorite pie to bake from scratch.  If you're like me, you have probably always assumed that pecan pies are difficult to make.  I don't know why but the pecan pie has always seemed somehow out of reach to me. . .too classy and high brow for my mediocre baking skills.  Maybe it's because the pecan is such a fancy nut?  It feels sinful to ruin a pecan while I'm willing to commit all sorts of culinary atrocities to the common peanut.  Some of you, however, have been holding out on me, keeping this well-guarded secret---pecan pie is ridiculously easy.  It's almost a stretch to call it baking.  And so, in the spirit of the giving season, allow me to share with you this slice of deliciousness composed of my own variations of Rachael Ray's perfect pie crust and Chef Eddy's pecan filling, corn syrup free.

***Healthy Twists***
As usual, we've swapped out some of the white flour for the whole wheat and since we  avoid corn syrup at all costs (don't even get Jeremy started on his corn syrup soap box!) and use lower glycemic sugars whenever possible, this recipe relies on agave nectar instead.

For the crust:
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 3 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 stick butter cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ice water
  • 1 1/2 tsps agave nectar

Making the crust:
  1. Combine first five ingredients with your hands until the largest pieces in the mixture are no bigger than peas.  This is a great job for a kiddo helper!
  2. Add in ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together but is not wet (appx. 1/2 cup). You should be able to pinch the dough and have it stick together without flaking apart or drooping.
  3. Knead in the 1 1/2 tsps agave nectar to cut through the bitterness of the WW flour.
  4. Roll into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and keep in fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  5. When you are ready to make your crust, place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll flat.
  6. Pull off top sheet of parchment paper and invert into pie tin.  Remove the other sheet of parchment and cut away any extra dough.
  7. Scallop edges as desired.

For the filling:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecan pieces 

Putting it all together:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in microwave.  While you're waiting, whisk together the eggs and water, adding in the sugar, agave nectar, and salt once it is well-blended.  Mix in melted butter and vanilla extract.
  3. Place pecan pies in pie crust first.  This will ensure that you get in the right number of pecans and are left with leftover filling to toss, rather than leftover pecans.  
  4. Pour in custard filling.
  5. Place in preheated oven for 10 minutes then lower to 325 and cook until the center is set and does not tremble when touched (appx. 65 minutes).
  6. Enjoy!

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