Buttercup’s Bourbon Pecan Pie

Hello, pie lovers! I hope that by now you have mastered your pie pastry skills and are prepared to impress your Thanksgiving guests with your mad pie skillz. If not, well, you best get crackin’.

I am nuts about pecans, as proven by my Magical Mystery Pecan Pie and Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie, so it was only natural that I would whip up another nutty pie before the big feast. (Spoiler alert: Sweet Potato Souffle Pie is next on my list.)

Being a fan of bourbon, I was immediately attracted to this Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe by the butter-lovin’ Paula Deen. Of course I had to jazz it up a bit and make it my own. More nuts! More spice! More baking time because it was not even close to being set in the time Paula recommended! I find that a lot with pie recipes, which is very annoying. Aren’t you glad you have me to save you from pie-tastrophes?

Buttercup’s Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 cup sugar
3 tbs butter, melted
½ cup dark corn syrup
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups pecan halves
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper (about 4-5 turns of the grinder)
dash salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbs good bourbon (I used Blanton’s, Knob Creek or Basil Hayden’s are also good)
1 9-inch pie pastry, unbaked

Preheat oven to 375°
Stir together sugar, salt, and melted butter in a large bowl. Add the corn syrup and eggs, mix well. Stir in bourbon, vanilla, nutmeg, and pepper. Add pecans and stir until combined. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on the lowest rack. Move pie to middle rack and lower temperature to 350°. Bake for an additional 45 minutes or until pie is set. Cool on a wire rack.

Look at the pretty pictures for inspiration.

Assemble your ingredients before you start measuring and mixing

I present my perfect pie pastry. Superior to Pillsbury and no lard!

Mix the sugar, salt, and melted butter until it looks like this

Mmm... Bourbon. Use only good quality bourbon if you want a good quality pie

Freshly grated nutmeg is so much better than the stuff in jars

Stir in the pecans after combining the rest of the ingredients

Carefully pour filling into your prepared pie shell

Who's ready to get baked?

Fresh from the oven and baked with lovin'

Happiness is the perfect slice and pie bokeh

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Coffee Lovers Pie

I am a bit of a coffee addict. I love the smell and the anticipation of the first sip in the morning. I love it hot or iced. I like my coffee how I like my men: strong and sweet. Cream and extra sugar, please. I’m on my third cup right now.  No decaf, thanks. Buzzzzzzzzzz!

I will admit that I started drooling when I came across a recipe for Coffee Cream Pie in the Martha Stewart’s New Pies & Tarts cookbook I checked out from the library. I immediately made a list of ingredients I needed and then put it aside because it sounded complicated. Hey, I’m just being honest. I like Martha, but sometimes she just makes things harder than they need to be. (Yeah, that’s what I said.)

I made some adjustments to her recipe, simplified things a bit, and my pie came out perfectly. I noticed that people left comments on her recipe post about the cream filling not setting correctly. I had no problem whatsoever. Please refer to my cream pie tutorial for tips on how to achieve perfect results.

Chocolate Cookie Crust
26 chocolate wafers
5 tbs. butter, melted
3 tbs. sugar
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Use a food processor or a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin to make cookie crumbs. Pour crumbs into a medium bowl and add butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until well combined. Press mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate. You can used a flat-bottomed measuring cup to evenly press the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Coffee Cream Pie
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2½ cups milk (I used 2 cups 2% milk and ½ cup heavy cream because that’s what I had on hand)
2 tbs. instant espresso powder (I used Café Bustelo, the only instant espresso powder I found at Publix)
4 egg yolks
¼ cup Kahlua (one mini bottle will suffice)
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tbs. butter

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and espresso powder. Cook over medium-high heat until thick and bubbling, whisking constantly for about 5-7 minutes. You will know it’s done when big bubbles form and the whisk leaves a nice trail along the bottom of the pan. Do not overcook!

Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in milk mixture in a steady stream until incorporated. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until just boiling, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla and Kahlua. Stir in butter 1 tbs. at a time, whisking until melted. Let cool, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Pour custard into cooled cookie crust. Press plastic wrap on surface of custard (to avoid the dreaded pudding skin) and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours. Prepare whipped cream right before serving.

Real Whipped Cream Topping
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 tbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. espresso powder

Whip cream, sugar, and espresso powder in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Spread over top of chilled pie. You can crush regular or dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans to add as a garnish atop the whipped cream but only if you are serving/eating the pie immediately. The beans get mushy in the cream overnight and take on an unpleasant texture.

Now for some pretty pictures.

Cookie Crust Ingredients

Here's what you need for the chocolate wafer crust

mini food processor

Making cookie crumbs in the mini food processor

pinch

Look! A pinch of salt! My mom found the cute mini measuring spoons for me

cookie crumb crust

Making the cookie crust and recreating the photo in Martha's book

Ingredient lineup

Ingredients for the coffee cream filling

whisking

See the trails left by the whisk? This is how you know the custard is done

Coffee Cream Filling

Carefully pour the cooled filling into the cookie crust

Cover in plastic wrap

Press plastic wrap over filling to avoid the dreaded pudding skin

Coffee Cream Pie, anyone?

Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Can you believe it? Since I have not eaten turkey since 1988, I am all about the sides and pies of the feast. I make a mean twice-baked stuffed butternut squash, a sublime sweet potato souffle, and fantastic cranberry sauce. And then there are the pies.

It is pretty hard to decide on the pies, but pumpkin needs representation and so does pecan. By combining the two, I now have room for other varieties.  This Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie recipe is adapted from one I got from a friend I worked with in Miami. With its crunchy pecan topping, sweet pumpkin filling, and slightly salty, flaky crust, this pie will be a hit at any feast.

I like to use dark brown sugar for the topping, but light brown sugar works just fine. Freshly ground nutmeg is superior to jarred stuff, but use what you have. As with most pies I bake, I like to put a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie to catch any possible drips and save myself from having to clean the oven too often.

Praline Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Praline Topping
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup flour
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup butter, cut into small bits
½ tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a small bowl with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.

Pumpkin filling
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Whisk pumpkin, spices, and sugars in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared, unbaked pie crust.

Sprinkle praline mixture on top of pumpkin filling. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 50-55 minutes or until top is golden and filling is set. Cool on rack for at least two hours before serving. It is even more awesome topped with real whipped cream.

Let’s look at pretty pictures now!

Chopping pecans

Ingredient lineup and chopping pecans

Praline topping

This is what the praline pecan topping should look like when combined

nutmeg

Freshly ground nutmeg is the best. Where's the eggnog?

egg

Add the eggs one at a time. Why? Because I said so!

filling

Carefully pour the pumpkin filling into prepared, unbaked pie crust

 

praline topping

Sprinkle the praline topping evenly atop the pumpkin filling

Ready for the oven

Looks pretty, right? Oh, you just wait

 

Ta da!

Hot from the oven and ready for lovin'

 

home slice

The perfect slice of pie makes me happy

 

Confession time: I only post photos of perfect pie slices. I know, it’s wrong. I should show you the sloppy pie slices, too, because pie perfection is not as easy as it looks. I also tend to eat my pie later in the evening, which means bad lighting and laziness. Excuses, excuses. I will try to be better about posting photos of my home slice.

 

Butter-Bourbon Meringue Pie

What started out as an attempt to make the best Butterscotch Meringue Pie ever for my love’s birthday, turned into the best Butter-Bourbon Meringue Pie ever. After making this pie three times (yes, that’s right; practice makes perfect), I finally came up with the “Winner, Winner, Fake Chicken Dinner” recipe that you’ll find here.

If you recall from my Chocolate Meringue Pie experience, cream pies can be tricky. The filling needs to be thick, like pudding, before you bake it because the baking is really just to brown the meringue. Patience and practice make for perfect pies. It is also important to have all of your ingredients measured before you start baking. Things start to move quickly and you don’t want to burn your butter or brown sugar, which I have done, and it’s not pretty. It smells bad, too. And it makes you cry, until you remember that “pie should not make you cry.”

You will need a pre-baked pie pastry, which you can either prepare and blind-bake yourself, or you can go the refrigerated/frozen pie crust route. I won’t judge you, but others might.

Note: The pie needs to cool at least four hours before slicing or it will just mush apart. It can be refrigerated overnight, which actually makes it taste even better.

 

Butter-Bourbon Meringue Pie

2¼ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbs unsalted butter
1¼ cups dark brown sugar, packed
4 egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 tbs bourbon
1 whole vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 9-inch prebaked pie shell

In a large saucepan, whisk together milk and cream over medium heat. If using vanilla bean (recommended), slit the bean, scrape out seeds, add to milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Yes, add the split pod, too, just remove it after simmering. Do not boil milk, just bring to simmer then remove from heat.

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed (tee hee!) saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar and continue to stir constantly until caramelized, about 3-5 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Once you start to smell a caramel aroma, it is done.

Slowly whisk the sugar into the milk until mixture is smooth.

Put egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly whisk in about a half cup of the milk. (You are trying to avoid cooking the eggs, so a slow drizzle while whisking is preferred.) Whisk in cornstarch and and salt until combined. Whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan of milk. Whisk in the bourbon.

Continue to whisk constantly while cooking over medium-high heat until big bubbles form and filling is thick, like pudding. DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Remove from heat and pour into prepared pie pastry. Set aside and prepare your meringue. I like Paula Deen’s Mile-High Meringue, but you can cut it down to four egg whites and 8 tbs. sugar, if you prefer the 3/4-mile-high meringue.

Top pie with meringue and bake at 325° for 15 minutes, or until meringue is nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack for at least four hours or refrigerate overnight.

Since the cream pie baking goes so quickly, I don’t have as many photos for this one. I’ll try to add more after I bake this one again.

Make sure to measure liquid ingredients in liquid measuring cups, mkay?

 

Split the vanilla bean pod, scrape out the seeds, and toss it all in the milk pot

 

Remove from heat when the sugar mixture looks like this

 

The perfect meringue pie

You Are Too Sweet

No, really. You are way too sweet. Not you, sweet love, who always opens the door for me. I like that. I’m talking to you, Brown Sugar Pie. Goodness, why did I think you would be good?

Well, you were good at first, and then you just became too much, kind of like that sweet guy who calls to check up on you but then keeps calling and texting until you want to heave your phone (or him) off a cliff. (Don’t worry; we don’t have cliffs in Florida.)

After the third bite my love said, “this pie is not for Wilford Brimley.”

Do you have diabeetis? Then let’s dance!!

Seriously, though. I found the recipe in “Southern Living Homestyle Cooking” and added my own bit of flair. It was super easy, just one bowl. Measure, dump, mix, and pour. I like that. But it was really freakin’ sweet.

I used a basic all-shortening pastry because I didn’t have enough butter. (Travesty, I know.) I also added some spices because it had the sugar and everything nice, but was missing something. Try it if you dare.

Brown Sugar Pie

½ cup butter, melted
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 9-inch pie pastry

Beat butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and spices in a large mixing bowl until blended. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

There is such a thing as too damn sweet

Like Warm Apple Pie

Is it me, or is September truly the cruelest month? Oh, right. It’s not just me. Everyone agrees that we all hate September. So let’s celebrate OCTOBER and AUTUMN and all things cozy. Like warm apple pie.

Raise your hand if you do not like apple pie. OK, you? You’re just weird. No, I’m kidding. You must be a Communist. KIDDING! Sheesh, lighten up, Commie. My point is that if you love Amerikuh, then you gots to love apple pie. It is sweet, tart, spicy, flaky, and cozy. Kind of like me. Am I right?

Full disclosure: This was my first apple pie and my first homemade pastry. I actually baked this back in May, but I’ve been waiting for fall to debut the pie on my blog.

I used Julia Child’s flaky pie dough for this recipe and it worked really well. The filling was a hodgepodge of recipes. I found inspiration in “The Perfect Pie” by Susan G. Purdy and “The New American Cooking” by Joan Nathan, and then added my own bit of flair.

Petunia’s Autumn Apple Pie

8 cups of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (I used 2 medium Granny Smith and 6 medium MacIntosh apples)
1 lemon, juice and zest
2 tbs flour
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs bourbon, sprinkled over top of apples
2 tbs butter, cut up and dotted on top of apples

Preheat oven to 425°. Mix first seven ingredients and spoon into prepared, unbaked pie pastry. Sprinkle bourbon over the top and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, slice vents for steam. I used an egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 tbs water) to brush over the crust, top and bottom, but this is optional.

Bake on the bottom rack for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, move pie to middle rack and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.

Cool on wire rack and serve with ice cream. I took it to the next level by also serving my pie with Ina Garten’s Caramel Sauce. Oh my.

My loving, biased taste-tester said that this was the best apple pie he had ever had. That’s true love right there.

Always assemble your ingredients first

Gratuitous ingredient shot

Still Life with Apples

I enjoy peeling apples. Does that make me weird?

Slices and spices

buttah!

Piled high and dotted with butter

And that, my friends, is Pie Perfection

Make Your Own Crust, Pie

When is a pie not a pie? When it says it “makes its own crust” and it really doesn’t.

"Having baked in a pie plate doth not a pie make." ~ Miss Petunia Buttercup

Yep, I almost broke my “Pie should not make you cry” rule last night. I found a recipe in an old, spiral-bound church cookbook that I thought might be fun to try.

That's my juvenile handwriting letting you know in sparkly pen that it was indeed a COOKBOOK!

Yeah, not so much. It was easy, sure, but it’s no winner. In fact, it was so bad that I won’t even post the recipe.

Beulah warned me about the coconut but not about how much this pie sucks

OK, I will post a photo of the recipe, but I’m telling you do not make it! Well, not unless you like weird custardy desserts pretending to be pies. Meh.

I went for the pineapple because my sweet lover does not like coconut. He is extra sweet for telling me  “this isn’t a pie, it doesn’t count,” because he knew I wasn’t happy with it.

If anyone knows Mrs. Beulah Addler, who appears to still live in Washington, Illinois, please give her my regards and tell her that this is not a pie. It didn’t even make a crust! It was just mush. And, yes, I drained the heck out of the pineapple. Whatever. It’s a bad recipe. I do, however, have a great recipe for a pie that makes its own crust and Imma gonna tell ya ’bout it right now!

This Ozark Pie recipe spoke to me because I do love the Ozarks and I was intrigued that a pie could be so clever as to make its own crust.

I found this recipe in Ken Haedrich’s Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie, and since this was actually No. 10 on my 52 weeks of pie tour, I pretty much followed the recipe as written, with the exception of adding more vanilla. You can use just about any fruit and nut combo. I made this one with apples and walnuts. I think pears and pecans would be divine. I do have to say that this isn’t a pie that ages well, so it’s best consumed right after baking. It makes a great last-minute dessert for a gathering, especially when served à la mode.

Ozark Pie

1 egg + one egg yolk
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup +1 tbs flour
1½ tbs baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp fresh, grated nutmeg
1 large apple or 2 medium pears, cored, peeled, and chopped
½ cup nuts, chopped

Combine eggs and sugars in large bowl and beat until frothy. Blend in vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, and spices in a separate bowl. Stir into batter along with nuts and fruit. Pour into greased 9″ pan and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream for a most delicious dessert.

Now that's a pie that makes its own crust!