Shoooooo, y’all!!! I almost messed up Thanksgiving! Your girl completely blew off the fact that, as a food blogger, I should be blogging about- say…FOOD?!?! ESPECIALLY on one of the foodiest holidays that exists. Instead, I was galavanting around my garage building stuff in a last-ditch effort to get my proverbial “ish” together. By the Monday before Turkey Day, my dining room still looked a “hot-volcano mess“- as my daughter is fond of saying. Thankfully, by Wednesday, all was right with the world. That’s partially because this Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chips was cooling on my counter.
Now, I, for one, never liked Pecan Pie. However, as with most recipes that I develop, that all changed with a bite of this pie. I’m sure the mix of maple and dark corn syrup, as well as the bourbon, had a lot to do with my change of heart. If not solely because of those two, the chocolate chips were definitely its saving grace. Everyone else in my family raves about this pie. We also had our Soldiers over for Thanksgiving dinner and a plus one of theirs even snatched up two servings. Like, “Um…hi! Who do you belong to?”
All was right with the world because a bountiful feast was on the table, and my dining room was POPPIN’!
Shockingly enough, I don’t always cook with spirits, even though that may seem hard to believe. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking with liquor, but the dude at the liquor store and I aren’t on a first name basis…yet. I kid, I kid. I like adding some liquor to some recipes because the spirits tend to boost the flavors of what they’re added to. Such is the case with this sugary-sweet pecan pie. The headiness of the bourbon cuts the cloyingly sweet taste pecan pie tends to have. The addition of dark chocolate, not it’s sweeter milk chocolate friend, adds a deeper dimension of flavor. So basically, I’m the Picasso of pie. And you’re my friend, so life is bomb. All this is to say that you can totally make this filling sans bourbon. Substitute it with an additional tbsp of vanilla extract instead.
Sidebar: vanilla extract is basically alcohol, too, so if you have to avoid alcohol for whatever reason, use fresh vanilla bean paste instead.
Of course, every amazing pie begins with an amazing-er (hush up, grammar-freak) pie crust. Mine is legendary (in my house). I can, and have, baked this pie dough just to eat the crust on its own because it’s that flaky and buttery. Get the recipe and process here. If you opt to purchase pre-made pie dough, just line your pie tin and flute the edges however you like. I roll out my extra dough to create leaves to decorate the pie rim with because I’m a pastry geek. A fluted edge works just fine, though. Once your tin is all set, place it into the fridge to firm up the butter in the dough. This will also help, when baking, to create a flaky, beautiful crust.
Let’s make the filling.
All pecan pies start with eggs. Because they contain eggs, pecan pies should (better) be refrigerated. Not for nothing, but those pecan pies you see on shelves that are not refrigerated are chockfull of preservatives and additives. If that’s your thing, more power to you, but I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve gotten into over whether or not pecan and pumpkin pies should be refrigerated. They should, since they are custards, be kept under refrigeration after cooling. Store-bought pies aren’t the devil, but they aren’t a standard to hold up to when debating whether something is shelf-stable. They’ll beat out a homemade pie for days on a counter, but that doesn’t make them safe. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Beat the eggs until they are homogenous- meaning, you don’t want to see large clumps of yolk vs. whites. When you lift your whisk your eggs should run smoothly and not in globs.
Now, add your sweeteners. Here, I’m using dark corn syrup and maple syrup, instead of just the dark corn syrup. Since dark corn syrup has molasses and caramel flavoring added to it, it tends to impart a bitter flavor into my recipes. While its use is a must in recipes like this with a high amount of sugar, the bitterness is not. Because of the sugar content in this recipe, we have to use an inverted sugar (corn syrup) to keep the pie’s filling from crystallizing into a rock hard mass. Light corn syrup is too weak, flavor-wise, and although we’d get out of the bitter zone, we’d get nothing in return for using it. No flavor, no oomph, no “stank” on it- you know? So, all this is why I cut the bitterness of the dark corn syrup with the maple syrup.
Just as there are different varieties of corn syrup, there are different grades of maple syrup. Not to be confused with “pancake syrup”, which is, in fact, corn syrup with maple flavoring; maple syrup is the real deal sap of a maple tree. In a boiling process that condenses the sugary sap, the syrup is take from various grades of taste and color. Ranging from Fancy to Grade B, the sugar goes from light and vanilla-flavored, to a deep and dark robust flavor. My favorite is the Grade A, or Grade A Amber- both of which sit right in the middle of maple-y deliciousness. Don’t you just love my little syrup cup?
Whisk both sweeteners into the eggs until it’s all one beautiful mixture.
Now add melted, unsalted butter. Please don’t use margarine. I don’t even want you to have margarine in your house, but I’ll choose my battles wisely. This needs pure, unadulterated butter.
To round out the wet mix, we add a few glugs of a high-quality bourbon. I am a fan of Basil Hayden’s whiskey. Mainly because it doesn’t make me want to gag when I drink it, but also because the Soldier likes to drink it straight. Knob Creek Maple is also a really great bourbon to use in this recipe, as well as my Cranberry Sauce recipe.
Now, let’s add some more sugar!! Yes, this pie has sugar. No, I don’t feel bad about it, nor should you. Everything in moderation, my friend. Clearly if there’s a health-risk at stake, you don’t want to be downing the whole pie, but then, you probably wouldn’t be reading up on how to make a sugar-laden pecan pie if there were a health-risk. Now would you?
Add the sugar and stir to combine.
Now we add the chopped pecans to our wet mix. After harvesting, like, three pecans at a local farm, I have a greater appreciation for the cost of pecans. After last Tuesday, I also have an appreciation for how much I DON’T care about how the word is pronounced. Dead serious, I stood in my kitchen watching a 40-something year-old man and his two 12 year-olds get into a heated discussion on the correct pronunciation of pecan. At my wits end, I said in a loud, assertive (shrieking) voice (scream), “If you three don’t get out of my kitchen, I’m going to shove a pe-CAHN up YOUR PEE-cans!!! Get out!” I won the argument, surprisingly enough.
Whatever you call them, fold them into the wet mix along with a pinch of salt.
Our final ingredient in the filling is a nice dark chocolate. Again, the use of a darker chocolate adds a deeper flavor profile to the overall pie. It helps to cut the sweetness of the three types of sugar we’re using in the filling. The sweetest chocolate I would recommend is a semi-sweet. I’m using a 63% Extra Dark Chocolate from Guittard but anything up to 80% cacao is recommended. Blend it all together with your whisk and grab your chilled pie shell.
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
Fill your pie shell with the pecan pie filling, then make an egg wash by whisking an egg yolk with 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl until blended well.
You need to brush the pie dough with the egg wash as this helps give your pie shell that beautifully glossy look when baked.
If you’re not adding extra decorations, just bake as is. If you’ve decided to embellish your crust a bit, add your decorations and brush again with the egg wash. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pie jiggles slightly when shaken. The pie will firm up more as it cools.
Now, all that’s left to do is serve, sit in your renovated dining room and breathe a sigh of relief. Oh! And pin this for your family and friends!
Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chips
Yield 1 9" pie
Use a dark chocolate chip to cut the sweetness of the filling.
1 unbaked 9" pie shell
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Grade A Amber maple syrup
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3 tbsp bourbon*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of kosher salt
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup dark (semi-sweet-80% cacao) chocolate chips
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Line a 9" pie plate with your pie dough shell and prick the bottom with the tines of a fork. Flute the edges and set the pie plate in the refrigerator to chill while you make your filling.
- In a large mixing bowl- beat the eggs lightly. Add both syrups, the bourbon, and the extract, then whisk to combine.
- Add the sugar, salt, pecans and chocolate chips to the bowl. Fold to incorporate.
- In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and tbsp of water. Whisk well.
- Remove the pie shell from the fridge and pour the filling into the shell.
- Brush the pie crust with the egg wash.
- Bake the pie for 40-45 minutes or until the pie filling jiggles slightly when shaken. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before refrigerating or serving.
- Keep pie refrigerated.
*the bourbon may be omitted. Simply increase the amount of vanilla extract to 2 tbsp.
If you love this pie recipe, check out these other sweet treats: