Whiskey and Browned Butter Pecan Pie

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I may have said it before, but one of the reasons I grew up wanting to be a chef was because of the memory-triggering power of food. One bite of a favorite food and you’re instantly transported to your childhood, your first date with your husband or wife, the first Thanksgiving you ever cooked yourself, and thousands of other memories that warm you up and spread joy with a single bite. If I had to name my favorite memory-triggering food, I would say it must be my dad’s pecan pie. Pecan pie is actually not my favorite dessert nor my favorite pie! But a Thanksgiving without the smell and sight of my dad’s famous pecan pie quietly waiting on the dessert table just wouldn’t feel right. My version of my dad’s masterpiece dessert includes browned butter and whiskey, two ingredients that add a little extra oomph to an already perfect recipe.

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One reason this recipe is sooooo yummy: buttah

Whiskey and Browned Butter Pecan Pie

Yields 1 pie

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • ¼ cup ice water

Filling:

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. whiskey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
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Keep an eye on your butter as it browns – don’t let it burn!

With a food processor, combine flour, salt, butter, and sugar and pulse machine until the mixture looks like small pebbles.  Add the ice water slowly until the dough comes together into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or place in the freezer for 15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Fold dough into quarters and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Unfold dough and trim overhang to about ½ inch. Fold overhang under the edge of pie pan and crimp. Place crust in the freezer for 20 minutes. To par-bake the crust, preheat oven 400°F. Line frozen crust with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes, take the pan out of the oven and remove the pie weights and paper/foil, then let cool before filling. (Note: I prefer to par-bake my pecan pie crusts because the filling is syrupy and thin. Par-baking before you fill the crust will result in a crisp bottom-  a delicious contrast to the soft filling.)

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Lower oven temperature to 350°F. To prepare the filling, start by melting the butter over medium heat. Keep a close eye on the butter as it melts and boils – the goal is to brown the milk fat in the butter (this will take 2-3 minutes). Once the butter starts for brown and smells nutty, immediately stir in the sugar, salt, and corn syrup to stop the butter from burning. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and cool for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the whiskey, vanilla, and cider vinegar. Beat in each egg, one at a time. Stir in the toasted pecans. Pour mixture into par-baked crust and place in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until center is set (toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle). Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy hot or at room temperature. This pie can be made 2 days in advance.

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