My brother-in-law is from Louisiana, and one of the desserts he’s made over the years that always captures my love is his bourbon pecan pie. So, when we decided on a date for my sister and brother-in-law to come over for dinner around the holidays, I said I wanted a recipe for the pie so I could make it. Never having made a pie before (which made me an instant target of good-natured ridicule and incredulity), I wasn’t sure if it was a complicated process or not. The response was, effectively, take a standard pecan pie recipe and add a splash of bourbon to it. Oh. Hmm.
As I pondered these thoughts, a friend of my sister’s proposed that I drunk up the pie by soaking the pecans – and he furthermore suggested that I should add chocolate chips. Not being a big fan of hard liquor, but willing to see this through as an interesting experiment…IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE!…I was willing to give it a shot. And so, I made two pies. This is the first recipe I came up with, and the second one will be posted soon in order to give a more vanilla, as it were, version of the pie. (The latter is more of a traditional bourbon pecan pie, whereas this one is definitely more in the vein of “HI, I’M PIE AS A DELIVERY VEHICLE FOR BOURBON AND CHOCOLATE. LOVE ME!”)
The key to making this a really drunken pie is in soaking the pecans – I went for about 12hrs of soaking time, but you could go longer, if you wanted. Being paranoid that the wet pecans would impart too much bourbonness and/or not cook properly, I decided to toast them prior to compiling the pie, so the prep on this is a little lengthy…but it’s not overly active prep time, so there’s that. Also, while I placed the chocolate chips in an anal-retentive “cover all pie bottom surface as best as you can, point-up” OCD layout, you could do something different. I just found this worked best for me, and it allowed me to make the pretty picture that’s shown below of chocolate chip-ville. Bear in mind that the chocolate doesn’t really melt – the chips are basically embedded in the pie. This means that the chocolate holds its own with the pecans as you take bites. For me, this works. NICELY.
Inactive Prep Time: 12hrs
Active Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 8-10mins toasting + 50-55mins baking
Serves: 6-8 (ok, maybe 10-12…it’s PIE! it all depends how you slice it)
1-1/2 cups pecan halves
1 cup bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
4 Tb butter
5/8 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup light corn syrup
Make it Happen
1. Put the pecans into a glass or other non-reactive bowl and pour the bourbon over top. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside on the counter for 12 hours.
2. About 15 mins before the soak time is done for the pecans, preheat the oven to 350F.
3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, then scoop out the pecans (minus the bourbon!) and place them in a single layer. Set aside the bourbon, in reserve.
4. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pecans in the oven to toast for about 10 mins. At the end of their toasting time, remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
5. Bump the oven temperature up to 375F and get to work on prepping the filling.
6. Place the crust into a glass 9″ pie pan and flute, fork or otherwise decorate the edge however you typically like. (Note: cook times may be different for metal, so adjust as needed).
7. Melt the butter in the microwave; approximately 40 secs on HIGH power.
8. In a separate bowl, add the sugar, melted butter, vanilla, corn syrup, eggs, and 2 Tb of the reserved (now pecan-infused) bourbon. Stir well to combine.
9. Place the chocolate chips in a single layer on the bottom of the crust.
10. Place the pecans evenly on top of the chocolate chips.
11. Evenly pour in the mixture from the bowl, over top of the pecans and chocolate chips.
12. Bake for 10 mins at 375F, then reduce the heat to 350F and bake for an additional 40-45 mins until the pie is set. You can tell the level of “setness” by lightly shaking the pie side to side; if the filling jiggles as though the majority of it is still liquid, you need more time. It should only jiggle a little in the center, and then it will finish setting as it cools. If your crust starts to get too brown, I’ve heard you can cover just the edges with some foil…but I didn’t find that this was a problem for me.
13. Cool the pie on a wire rack before serving…and feel free to strain out the pecan detritus from the remaining reserved bourbon using a few layers of cheesecloth. The pecan-infused bourbon got double thumbs-up from my tester.