“It’s refreshing, in some curious way, to know that you can have failures, even though you ARE one of the Food Guys,” says Food Guy Jon Jackson, after fellow Food Guy (and Baking Wizard) Greg Patent explains why, when Jon stopped by the Patent kitchen recently, there were "dangerous-looking" pieces of pecan pie strewn around.
“Having a mistake, and then having to remedy it” is Greg's explanation for the pie-carnage. He'd found an intriguing recipe for pecan pie that contained more nuts than he’d ever seen; not two cups, not three cups, but five and a half cups, meant for a 9” pie dish. Greg researched the online comments, tried a modified version of the recipe - and, based on its coagulated consistency - declared it a failure. Jon walked in after Greg had autopsied the failed pie, and then baked "one of the best of all pies," Maida Heatter's chocolate pecan pie.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Greg has adapted this recipe from “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts,” Knopf, 1980.
One 9-inch pre-baked pastry shell
Chocolate Pecan Filling:
2 cups (7 ounces) pecan halves
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted or salted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups dark corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum
To make the filling:
1. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the oven. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.
2. In a small heavy saucepan (1-quart) melt the butter over low heat. Add the chocolate and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs just enough to blend the yolks and whites thoroughly. Beat in the sugar and syrup just to mix. Add the vanilla, rum (if using), and the butter/chocolate, and whisk thoroughly. Stir in the pecans with a rubber spatula.
4. Put the partially baked pie crust on a baking sheet and carefully pour in the filling. Do this slowly. Watch the edges of the crust as you pour. If it isn’t high enough or has a low spot, you may not be able to use all the filling.
5.Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. When done, the center of the pie should jiggle just a bit when you pull out the oven rack. If the pie filling is very wiggly, bake a few minutes more. The filling will set and firm up as the pie cools. Another way to make sure the pie is done is to look for a few small cracks on the top of the pie. An underdone pie will not have these cracks.
6. Cool the pie to room temperature. Then refrigerate. This pie is really at its best served cold. Maida says whipped cream is traditional with pecan pie. Offer it or not. It’s up to you. Serve small portions. This pie is very rich!
Makes 10 servings.