Bourbon Pecan Pie, made with just a touch of bourbon, molasses, and butter with the flakiest homemade pie dough is a favorite anytime of year.
Oh it’s been one of those weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the change in season, the stormy weather or if I’m coming down with a little something. I just seem to be running in circles, not accomplishing what I’ve set out to do. Do you know what I mean?
One thing I have going for me is this Bourbon Pecan Pie. Finally, something worked! But before we talk pie, I’ve got a few pics to share with y’all from our California trip.
Rob and I headed out to California late last month, for a bit of birthday celebration and get-a-way. First to San Fran to say a quick hello to the gorgeous bridge and environs and to meet Kelly at the famed Tartine Bakery. Have you been? It was such a delight to meet Kelly, who’s blog I discovered last year, for the first time. We sipped wine and champagne over some outrageous hot pressed sandwiches, I’m determined to recreate for y’all because I know you love sandwiches, and chatted for as long as possible, but not long enough.
Rob and I left with an armful of brownies, chocolate croissants and dark chocolate mousse cake (gah!). We had a long drive ahead and I had to do some blog research, right?
That evening we drove to Pacific Grove where we stayed in a little AirBnB that was cozy and comfortable. This was our jumping off point for days of birding, hiking, picnicking and ocean gazing. We didn’t even make it to a winery!
Rob and I haul our binoculars with us everywhere and keep lists of birds we spot. We study their behavior and listen for them by ear. One spectacular sighting was a California Condor, the largest bird in North America with a wing span of nearly 10′. Their numbers had plummeted to a mere 23 individuals in the early 1980s. To avert extinction, a captive breeding program was started and brought their numbers back to around 400 individuals. This is nowhere near their historic numbers, but an improvement nevertheless.
We saw Sea Otters for the fist time. They are so interesting, completely adorable and another animal that’s been brought back from the brink. It was the fur trade in the late 1800’s that almost removed Sea Otters from the face of the planet. Thanks to some aware tree-huggers, their numbers are rebounding, but they’ve yet to fully recover. I am hopeful.
Sea Otters have a beautiful way of living. They have nurseries where in small groups adults wrap themselves in kelp with their young propped up on their belly. The kelp keeps the adults anchored so that they can rest without floating out to sea or down the inlet estuary. We heard a pup start calling when the adult left it to dive for food, it sounded like a human baby crying. When this occurred, another adult from the nursery swam over, picked up the pup and put it on its belly. The little otter stopped calling.
When the other adult popped up from getting a clam, we noticed it was carrying a stone on its belly. The stone stays there even when diving for clams. They use the stone as a hard surface to crack open clam shells to get to the meat inside.
Each morning we’d plan the day, pack a lunch and spend the days out exploring and hiking. We visited Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, a gem just outside of Carmel supported by an educated and loyal group of volunteer docents. We made our way down the twisting coast on highway 101 through Big Sur, over Bixby Bridge and stopped along the way at Big Sur Bakery to recharge, and do a bit more research.
There were plenty of gasps from the views, waves crashing and quick turn outs to catch a glimpse of a flock of Brown Pelicans, a pod of Sea Lions or to watch the fog roll in from above. Julia Pfeiffer State Park was breath-taking. We spent most of Rob’s birthday there. Hiking. Gazing. Listening.
We hope to go back some day when we can spend more time… It is truly a special place and has captured our hearts.
T0 see wildlife in their homes, on their terms was inspiring. I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling and enriching experience.
Now, about this pie.
The bourbon is bold, but not overwhelming. I like to whip out the booze during the holiday season, both in baking and in drinking, especially Bourbon; one of my favorite libations to bake with.
My love of pecan pie runs deep. Growing up, it was always on the holiday table, without the bourbon of course. Ma used to serve it with whip cream. Us kids, all four of us, would haggle over the leftovers. It was always over the top sweet. We loved it.
As an adult, I find pecan pie usually to be overly sweet because of the corn syrup and added sugar. In this recipe, I’ve left out the corn syrup in favor of brown rice syrup and use brown sugar in place of white with a bit less of it than in some recipes I’ve seen. I prefer brown rice syrup over corn given the issues surrounding GMOs.
Bourbon Pecan Pie is best made one day ahead of serving so the rich, custard filling has time to cool and set. Be ready with a homemade All Butter Buttermilk Pie Dough, which can be made in advance of whippin up this boozy treat. Gently reheat the pie and serve it with sweetened vanilla bean whip cream or a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for a melty, texturally tantalizing experience!
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Calling all bourbon fans... this is your pie! Creamy and custard like on the inside with a nice pecan layer on top cradled in a flakey, homemade crisp pie crust. Make this one day ahead of when you need it so the custard filling has time to cool and set.
In a small sauce-pot on medium low heat mix the brown rice syrup and sugar. As the mixture starts to bubble around the edges, whisk so that the sugar dissolves. Do not let this mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and add the butter, molasses, bourbon and vanilla. Whisk to mix. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 325F (163C). Toast the pecan halves for about 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted. They'll toast further as the pie bakes.
Arrange the pecans in the bottom of the pie, in an even layer with tops up.
Once the brown rice syrup mixture has come to room temperature, add the eggs and whisk until ingredients come together. Gently, pour the sugar-egg mixture over the pecans.
Bake for 45-50 minutes turning 1/2 way through baking. It's done when the center is just set but still slightly soft. If the crust starts to get dark, place a crust protector over the top of the pie or use foil to cover the edges.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool overnight so that the custard has time to set. Cover when completely cool and store at room temperature for up to three days.
Cutting this pie can be tricky because it has a soft set. Use a sharp knife and firm pressure when cutting. Dipping your knife in hot water and wiping it dry before cutting will help make a clean edge.
To reheat for service with ice cream, place in a 325F oven for about 8 minutes.
*Use leftover pie dough to make leaves or other shapes to lay on the edges of your pie. Cut shapes, freeze for about 5 minutes, then 'glue' them to the edge of the crust using egg wash. Egg wash the top of the decorative pieces.
Recipe inspired by my Ma and Chef Kimberly Smith.