During my time in the States, I remember eating a range of desserts that seem ironically American. Pecan Pie was one of those puddings, and everyone seemed to have their own family recipe. I do like nuts, and as I don’t possess a sweet tooth, I was more drawn to the less sweet versions I tried. But when I have tried to make Pecan Pie myself, I found my guests enjoyed a much sweeter version.
I noticed a recipe for a Pecan Pie in a Waitrose magazine last autumn that used Maple Syrup. It proved very popular amongst my guests, so this is a recipe I will try again. Most of the work here is about the pastry casing. The rest is very easy.
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g light brown soft sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
175ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Double cream or ice cream, to serve (optional)
Set aside 1 tbsp flour, then add the remaining flour to a large bowl and whisk in 1 tbsp sugar and half of the salt. Make a well in the middle and add 125g butter. Work it in with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water, just enough to bind, and bring it all together. Don’t overwork the dough. Form the pastry dough into a ball and flatten it out into a disc. Wrap and chill for thirty minutes.
When the pastry is ready, dust a clean work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to a 28cm circle; use to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Gently ease the pastry into the tin, pressing it in, then prick all over with a fork. Put the lined tin in the freezer for fifteen minutes, (or return to the fridge for thirty minutes). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4.
When the pastry has chilled, place the tart tin on top of a baking tray, and line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for twenty-five minutes, then remove the beans and bake for a further five-ten minutes, until the base looks dry.
Spread the pecans out on a baking tray and toast for five minutes, until light golden. Set aside to cool.
Melt the remaining 75g butter. Whisk the reserved 1 tbsp flour with the remaining light brown soft sugar and salt. Whisk in the maple syrup, vanilla, eggs and melted butter until smooth.
Carefully lay the toasted pecans inside the tart case, flat side down. Pour over the maple mixture, then bake for thirty-five to forty-five minutes, until set.
It’s important to leave to cool for one hour, as the molten nutty mixture would burn the roof of your mouth. Serve with double cream or vanilla ice cream.