Monday, December 12, 2011

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

I got this recipe from Tyler Florence on the Food Network. I have to say, it is unbelievable how easy it is to make such a complex and tasty pie. I am usually not a big pecan pie fan because it's normally just a tad too sweet for me.But the bourbon and the unsweetened chocolate in this recipe really help balance out the sweetness and I may have ended up eating a bit more of this pie than I should...Which is perhaps why the pictures in this particular post aren't quite as detailed as usual :p

So I do have to admit to cheating a bit... I used a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust. I know, I should have made my own...but I was busy. And tired. And that crust is actually really good- it also stood up pretty well to the sugary pecan pie filling. But I would make sure you follow their tip and dust both sides with flour before popping it in the pan. 

Once you have it all set in your pie pan, flute the edges to make it pretty. Or just fold it over in a solid line around the edge. Whatever floats your boat:

Next comes the filling. Here is what you will need:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon 
    • ***This amount does allow you to really taste the bourbon in the pie- it's not overwhelming, but it's definitely there. If you don't think you'll like that flavor, maybe try it with 2 tbsp the first time.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 11/2 cups pecan halves
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg.
- If using chocolate squares, melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, remove from heat and let cool. I actually have been using the pre-melted unsweetened chocolate packs. They are a real time saver in these types of recipes. If you're using those, you can just pop it in a bowl with the butter and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Mix it up and you're good to go.

- Whip the eggs with a whisk in a large mixing bowl until frothy and then whisk in the sugar.
- Stir in the syrup, vanilla, bourbon, salt, and the melted butter/chocolate mixture until well blended.
-Arrange the pecans on the bottom of the pie crust and carefully pour the egg mixture over them.

-Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed, about 45 minutes. **Keep an eye on the crust- mine got pretty brown about 35 minutes in, so I wrapped it gently in foil for the last 10 minutes.

- Transfer the pie to rack and cool completely before cutting- or at least try your hardest to wait until it's mostly cool....I made this pie a day in advance, so I just popped it in the fridge when it was cool. The next day, I took it out about an hour before dinner to let it come to room temp before cutting into it and enjoying the chocolatey, bourbon-y, pecan-y goodness.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar and Pecans

While I was hunting for a sweeter version of sweet potatoes to serve alongside my Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, I happened upon this recipe on the Epicurious website. It was simple and light, and had a nice combination of sweet and savory. Plus it had a nice textural contrast between the whipped potatoes and the crunchy baked topping. It was a big hit with my "Second Thanksgiving Feast" guests and is going in the permanent recipe box. I made a small modification from the original recipe, cutting down the brown sugar in the topping. I also made sure to use pure vanilla extract that had been made with distilled alcohol, to keep the recipe gluten-free for some of my guests.

- 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (about 2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

- 5 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons salt

- Preheat oven to 350 deg. 
- Mix sugar, pecans and butter in small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. 
- Use either butter or a non-stick spray to prep a  13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.
- Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
- Let them cool for a bit. 
- Purée sweet potatoes in processor. 
     - This is where I had to go through a few steps. It will most likely depend on what kind of equipment you have. I have a Cuisinart 6 cup food processor. After using the food processor, my potatoes looked like this:

They were still pretty grainy and lumpy. Next, I tried an immersion blender wand to whip them up, but they were too thick for that. Finally, I just stuck them in the blender. That did the trick. They came out smooth and fluffy like this: 

- Once you have settled on a method of whipping your potatoes into submission, beat the eggs, syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt in large bowl. Mix in the sweet potatoes. 
- Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared dish. 

- Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over mixture.

- Bake until sweet potato mixture is set and topping bubbles, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes and serve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Roasted sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans

I am just now getting around to posting the recipes I whipped up for my "Second Thanksgiving Feast." I found this first recipe a few years ago somewhere on the interwebs, and it has become an annual favorite. It can really be eaten any time of year, but the cranberries and pecans make it particularly well-suited for an unexpected and refreshing take on the usual sweet potato dish. I will be posting a Whipped sweet potatoes with pecan and brown sugar topping recipe shortly, so there will be something  a little more traditional as well ;)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberries & Pecans

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
Rosemary (fresh or dried)
2 tablespoons finely diced sweet onion
2 tablespoons chopped, toasted pecans
2 tablespoons dried cranberries (Craisins), coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey (citrus honeys are great here)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of cayenne (optional if you want a bit of a kick)

- Preheat the oven to 350 deg.
- Toss the diced sweet potatoes with the EVOO, rosemary, and S&P. Spread them out on a baking pan.

- Roast for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a fork inserts easily into the potato. Keep in mind that these potatoes will be tossed with vinaigrette and other ingredients, so it's ok to leave them a bit more firm than you might otherwise.

- While they cool, whisk all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette.

- Combine the sweet potatoes, onions, parsley, cranberries, and chopped pecans in a large bowl.

- Toss with the vinaigrette- I would start with half and then add more based on personal preference. I typically only end up using half of the dressing for this amount of potatoes, but I leave the extra out for anyone who wants to add more.... or to make a second batch a few days later...