I pity the cranberry. I truly do. It is much maligned. People think of this:
When they should think of this:
If less people were exposed to the first, the cranberry might not have been saddled with such a bad reputation all these years. I would like to "bring back" the cranberry. It is far underused in holiday desserts and other dishes. So, I was very excited to see this recipe involving cranberries, pecans, and BOURBON! My favorite! I wanted to give it a trial run before making it for Thanksgiving. And, success! It was delicious! I love the idea of toasting the pecans, it gives an extra boost of flavor. There is a LOT of sugar in this recipe. Enough that the pecans on top get nice and crispy with the sugar, almost like candied nuts. But that's a good thing. Cakespy said it best about the cranberries: "Adding a generous handful of tart cranberries (I know! Fruit!) to the Bourbon Pecan Pie worked on two levels: first, it tempered the extreme sweetness of the pecan-sugar-corn syrup mixture; second, it added a refreshing tang to the fiery, warming bourbon." And about the bourbon...do yourself (and me) a favor--buy good stuff. For novices, that means Maker's Mark, Knob Creek, or Buffalo Trace. Do NOT buy Early Times, Jim Beam, or, god forbid, Wild Turkey. You can really taste the bourbon in this pie--not the alcohol, the flavor of the bourbon. So, you need to use a bourbon that has a good flavor.
Bourbon Pecan Pie with Cranberries
-adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book-
1 single pie crust, blind baked (ingredients below)
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I used apple juice-sweetened; if possible, use the least sweet version you can!)
Rather Thick Single Pie Crust (adapted from Martha Stewart)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 tbsp. pcs., very cold
1/4-1/2 cup cold water
1. Prepare the pie crust. Put the flour, salt and sugar into a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks grainy. Then slowly, while pulsing, add the water until you can form the dough by pressing it between your fingers. Note: this can be done by hand as well. Decant the loose dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Using the wrap, fold the loose dough towards the middle and press with the back of your hands to form dough. Wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before using. Dough can be made ahead for up to one week. Before you're ready to bake this pie, blind-bake the pie crust for about 10-15 minutes at 325 F.
2. Ready to make the pie? Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F., baby!
3. When you're ready to prepare the filling, put the corn syrup and brown sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from heat and add the butter, bourbon and vanilla. Let the mixture cool, and then add the eggs and whisk until smooth (don't add the eggs while the mixture is still very hot, otherwise you'll have scrambled eggs!).
4. Fill and bake the pie. Arrange the pecans and cranberries on the bottom of the crust.
Carefully pour the filling over them (some will rise to the top, like magic!).
Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the filling is set; rotate the pan halfway through baking time. This pie allegedly serves about 8--however, what the recipe does not mention is that the 8 servings may be the same 2 people four times in one day.
As you can see above, I used dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup. I just think darker is better and more flavorful in most food situations. And, naturally, I used my own pie crust recipe. Because, damn, it's good. And look how flaky it is! If you haven't tried it yet, you should. Unless you're vegetarian--I'll work on that soon, promise.
TGIP Rating--Bourbon Pecan Pie with Cranberries--KEEPER! Needless to say, I WILL be making this for Thanksgiving. One of three desserts. I am very tempted (in my attempt to "bring back" the cranberry) to make the cranberry tart I made the very first time I made Thanksgiving dinner in my home (1995!), but one of the other desserts I'm making is this tart, and since I only have one tart pan---perhaps I'll make the cranberry tart for our Christmas Eve dessert-buffet-to-beat-all. And in the future--will I try this recipe with chocolate chips in place of the cranberries, for a CHOCOLATE Bourbon Pecan Pie? You bet your sweet bippy I will!
Next Up: Pie-la-Palooza 2!