Spice Things Up On National Pecan Pie Day

image courtesy of food52

Tomorrow is National Pecan Pie Day! Impress your family and friends with this amazing Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise recipe from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Cook This Now. This isn’t your normal pecan pie; Melissa Clark spices things up and uses maple syrup infused with star anise and rum. This recipe is also a community pick on food 52! I’m a sucker for the smell of freshly baked pies, yum!

( note: this recipe serves 8 )

ingredients for the pie crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons ice water

ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup Demerara or raw sugar
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons dark aged rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Whipped créme fraiche, for serving

cooking directions:

  1. To make the crust, in a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms lima bean-size pieces (three to five 1-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking (up to a week, or freeze for up to 4 months).
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.
  3. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Freeze the crust for 15minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use pennies, rice, or dried beans for this; I use pennies). Bake for 20 minutes; remove the foil and weights and bake until pale golden, about 5 minutes more. Cool on a rack until needed.
  4. To make the filling, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup, sugar, and star anise to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture is very thick, all the sugar has dissolved, and the syrup measures 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour for the anise to infuse.
  5. While the syrup is infusing, toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they start to smell nutty, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Remove the star anise from the syrup. Warm the syrup if necessary to make it pourable but not hot (you can pop it in the microwave for a few seconds if you’ve moved it to a measuring cup). Do not stir the syrup as you reheat it, as it may crystallize and harden. In a medium bowl, whisk together the syrup, eggs, melted butter, rum, and salt. Fold in the pecan halves. Pour the filling into the crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the pie is firm to the touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving with whipped crème fraiche.

Berry Delicious Summer Pudding

image courtesy of food52.com

Summer is here and I always find myself indulging in yummy seasonal fruits around this time of year – they’re just too good to resist. It seems that every time I go to the market, I make the mistake of overbuying fruit and forgetting to remind my family to eat it. I hate letting the fruit go to waste and recently came across a brilliant recipe on food52.com for Berry Summer Pudding. There are only a few easy ingredients and you can change up the fruit combination if you want (this recipe calls for blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries). It’s perfect to top off a summer cookout if you have a surplus of uneaten fruit and white bread hanging around ( and even stale bread is ok for this).  So celebrate, have some friends over and enjoy the sweetness of summer and this delicious recipe!