Ready to take your pecan pie to the next level? Find out what 3 simple ingredients can take your favorite holiday treat from average to award-winning.
This fall more than 7,000 people showed up to Old Mesilla to pay homage to our famous local nut at the first annual New Mexico Pecan Festival. The weekend of festivities included a 5k Run Like a Nut Fun Run, a fashion show, and naturally, a pecan pie bake-off. Thirteen bakers submitted their pies for taste tasting by a panel of six local judges. They evaluated the pies on criteria like taste of crust, level of creativity, and flavor strength.
Cookbook author Kelley Coffeen brought her foodie knowledge to the judging table. She says that the inventive bakers submitted a range of variations, but the most memorable pies were cooked for just the right amount of time. “When you cook the pecans too long they can get brittle, so I’m first off looking for that perfect pecan texture,” she explains, adding that the texture and taste of the filling is a close second. “The filling needs to have a certain flavor—you have to balance out all the sweetness with either a pinch of salt or butter. That starts clarifying the different tastes and all of the sudden the other flavors—vanilla, caramel, whatever you’ve added to your filling—start coming through a bit more.”
The judges found all that and more in first place winner Bo Salopek’s pie. The 10-year-old says he adapted his grandmother’s classic recipe by adding in pecan butter, bourbon, and an extra egg. Try out his super simple recipe changes in your holiday pie for a surefire crowd pleaser.
Bo’s Pecan Butter Pecan Pie
1½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening
5 Tbsp. cold water
1. Sift flour and salt together, then cut in shortening with pastry blender. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. water over part of mix and toss with fork. Repeat four more times until mixture is moistened. Form dough into a ball.
2. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
3. Gently fold dough into quarters. Place into center of pie pan and unfold. Trim dough about ½ inch out from edge of pan. Use fingers to make zig zag folds on the edges all the way around. Prick bottom of crust with a fork. Bake at 450° until set, about 5 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.
1 cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. pecan butter (Bo used Purely Pecans 100% Natural Pecan Butter)
1 Tbsp. bourbon
1½ cup pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Stir together corn syrup, eggs, and sugar. Add in butter, vanilla, pecan butter, and bourbon. Mix well.
3. Pour into pie pan. Arrange whole pecans on top of filling. Chop up remaining pecans and use to fill in gaps between whole pecans.
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Test doneness by poking center with a knife. Knife will come out clean when done.
Extra Special Treat!
Rub the extra crust trimmings with butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly brown. Serve with a chilled glass of milk or a warm mug of coffee.