4ouncescold, unsalted butter, in 1/2" dice, (8 tablespoons/1 stick)
about 4 tablespoons ice water
2 1/4cupsraw pecan halves
2/3cupdark brown sugar (preferably organic)
1/2teaspoonfine sea salt
2/3cuppure maple syrup (preferably grade B)
4tablespoonsbourbon, divided use
a few pinches of flaky salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling (optional)
unsweetened whipped cream, for serving
Make the crust:
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, sugar and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour, and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles sand with lots of pea-sized butter chunks. Drizzle the ice water over, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a rubber spatula, until the dough will hold together when you give it a squeeze. Dump the dough out onto a counter, divide it roughly into 6 portions, and fraisage by dragging a portion of dough across the counter using the heel of your hand. Scrape up the dough (a metal bench scraper works well here), gently press it into a ball and flatten into a disc. Slip it into a plastic bag, and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12" circle, dusting the dough lightly with flour as needed, rotating and flipping it to prevent it from sticking. Ease the dough into a 9" glass pie plate, fit it into the corners, and trim it to a 1" overhang. Fold the overhang under, and flute the crust by pressing it between the thumb of one hand and the index finger and thumb of the other hand.
Chill the crust for 20 minutes, then freeze it for 20 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400º. Remove all other racks from the oven.
Place the frozen crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Line it with a piece of parchment paper, and fill with pie weights, dry beans, or clean pennies.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment and bake until the bottom is lightly golden, 15 - 18 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, make the filling:
Spread the pecan halves on a small baking sheet in a single layer and toast in a 350º oven until fragrant and very slightly darkened in color, 12-14 minutes. To check if the pecans are thoroughly toasted, let one cool on the counter, then taste it – it should be crispy and have a toasty flavor. Let the nuts cool, then use your fingers to break each half into 4-8 pieces.
Reduce the oven temperature to 275º.
In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar and salt. Off the heat, gently whisk in the eggs one at a time, then the maple syrup, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the bourbon. Return the pot to a low flame and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-proof rubber spatula, until the mixture is warm to the touch (130ºF on an instant-read thermometer). Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon and the pecan pieces. Pour the mixture into the hot, pre-baked pie shell. (If the pie shell has cooled, return it to the 275º oven for 5 - 10 minutes to heat it up.)
Bake the pie at 275º until the custard is mostly set, 25-40 minutes. Ways to tell when the pie is done:
The pie wobbles slightly when you shake it from side to side, but doesn't slosh wetly.
An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160-165ºF.
When you press down on the center of the pie with the back of a spoon, the custard feels softly set, like Jell-o.
The sides of the pie may be very slightly puffed, but they should not be so puffed that the pie cracks around the edges.
Whew! Take that pie out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature, around 3 hours. Fleck with a few pinches of flaky salt, if desired. For the cleanest slices, chill the pie until firm (an hour or so), then cut slices and let them sit at room temperature, or place them in a low oven for just a minute or two until gently warmed (but not melted).
I like this pie equally cold, at room temperature, or very slightly warm. It keeps well in the fridge for up to several days.
Inspired by Cook's Country's Bourbon Pecan Pie.For the best flavor, use fresh, raw pecan halves (rather than pieces) and toast them yourself while the pie dough chills. Breaking up the nuts with your fingers, rather than chopping them, gives you more regular pieces and creates less dust, leaving the custard clear and smooth. Be sure to toast the nuts thoroughly or they will taste bland and soggy in the finished pie. On that note, be sure to par-bake the crust until it is almost fully baked, as it doesn't cook much after the filling is added; it should be golden and dry all over.Organic dark brown sugar contains more molasses than the conventional stuff and is highly recommended.Grade B maple syrup counter-intuitively has a deeper color and flavor than grade A; use it.This is a boozy pie, not for children, expecting mothers or recovering alcoholics. For a milder bourbon bite, omit the 2 tablespoons of bourbon that are added at the end. I used Bulleit bourbon, but I've also made this pie with Jack Daniel's with great results; I'm guessing that any decent bourbon will make a tasty pie.Unsweetened whipped cream makes a fine foil to this pie; though a slice of warm pie with a scoop of vanilla or coffee ice cream would be sublime, too.This pie needs to cool at room temperature for 3 hours post-baking. For the cleanest cuts, chill the pie after it has completely cooled, cut slices, and then let the slices sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, or warm them briefly in a 300º oven.Nutritional values are based on one of ten servings.