What it is: A fall and winter favorite, pecan pie falls into the category of sugar pies, featuring a sugary custard filled with pecan halves.
Where it comes from: Pecans are indigenous to North America. Pecan pie, surprisingly, dates only to the late 19th century. Nutless sugar pies are older, but the first recipes adding pecans were published at the end of the 1800s. The pie was popularized beginning in the 1930s by the makers of Karo Syrup.
What to do with it: All kinds of variants exist, varying the amount of molasses, replacing it with maple syrup or cane syrup, making it more or less custardy and adding everything from chocolate to bourbon. Dobra Bielinski, owner of Delightful Pastries in Jefferson Park, Old Town and the West Loop, adds both.
Delightful Pastries’ chocolate pecan bourbon pie
Pastry Chef Dobra Bielinski
6 ounces butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 ounces pecan halves
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 9-inch pie shell
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar till smooth. Add the corn syrup and molasses, then the flour and mix well.
Beat in the eggs one by one, scraping down after each egg; add the vanilla extract and salt. Fold the pecans and chocolate by hand, add the bourbon.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, till the top is dry and the filling is barely jiggling. Let cool. 8 servings.