Adventures in Baking: Pecan Pie

In addition to corn, I am also allergic to pecans. Pecan pie is a celebration – nay, an offering to the gods – of corn syrup and pecans. Theoretically off limits to an unworthy, allergy-riddled human like me. However, never one to let a mere allergy get in the way of food (especially dessert), I set out to make a Colleen-friendly pecan pie.

Problem #1: Pecans

So what should I use instead of pecans? Easy. Pistachios. Pistachios are my go-to nut for all things. Almonds are a worthy second-choice option.

Problem #2: Corn

I’m originally from upstate New York. Maple syrup is the greatest form of sugar in the world, and I’m not being hyperbolic. Fake maple syrup (straight up corn syrup and flavoring) is an insult to everything that is decent.

…In case it isn’t clear, maple syrup. Maple syrup is my chosen replacement for corn syrup in my version of pecan pie. I also decided honey would be an acceptable substitute.

The first version:

IMG_20151125_193250 copy
Ingredients, assemble!

I first made this pie when I was home for Thanksgiving. Unbeknownst to me, pecan pie is my mom’s favorite pie (but she is also allergic to pecans). After a bit of workshopping my idea with her, we settled on a blend of pistachios and almonds for the pecan replacement and maple syrup for the corn replacement. (I proposed a blend of maple syrup and honey which she immediately shot down. I come by my fierce love of maple syrup honestly.)

Oh, and what about the bourbon typically found in pecan pie? I used apple brandy. (Funnily enough, both my oldest sister and I used the same amount of apple brandy in our pie – me in my pecan pie, she in her mince pie. While you could barely taste it in my pie, it came across loud and clear in hers.)

Since I have obviously never eaten pecan pie before, I had nothing to compare my version to. So my mom was my resident expert – she loved it, and suggested all pistachios for the next version.

Not-Pecan Pie 2.0: The pie of mistakes

Winter Storm Jonas spurred a baking spree at my house. I made cookies, bread, and not-pecan pie 2.0, in addition to making soup stock and then soup. Thank goodness for roommates. Pie 2.0 was a bit of a comedy of errors. Let’s start with the pie crust.

I’ve been making pie for years. As my mom prefers the Betty Crocker oil pastry, circa 1961, that’s the crust I learned to make, and I have perfected that recipe. I can whip it up in less than five minutes. But I’ve grown bored of it and decided to make a butter crust for this pie. Now, the last time I bought flour, I got whole wheat flour instead of the normal, unbleached all-purpose flour I’m used to (the shelves were somewhat bare that day…). Long story short, I had to throw out my butter crust. Unfamiliar with using whole wheat flour and not-as-familiar with a butter pastry, my dough was an unworkable, crumbly mess. So much for a nice, flaky butter crust. Oh well – I whipped up a quick oil pastry, tossed it in the pie plate, and moved on.


As for the filling, I had intended this version to be all pistachio. But when I went to my pantry to grab my pistachios, narrowing my eyes I realized I probably wouldn’t have enough pistachios. So I snagged a bag of silvered almonds as well. It was a good thing; I needed it.

I also intended to use only maple syrup for this pie. But again, after looking at how much maple syrup I had left, my jar of honey found its way to the counter.

So to recap:

Pie I intended to make: butter crust, all pistachio, maple syrup

Sad second pie

Pie I made: oil pastry, half pistachio, half almond, half maple syrup, half honey

The verdict? Not as good as the first pie. The flavor of the whole wheat crust was overpowering. I didn’t like it. While whole wheat flour has been fine for cookies and breads, it doesn’t work for pie crust. Next time (next few times) I make this pie, I want to experiment with just pistachios and just almonds. And I will stick with using only maple syrup (though I am curious as to what an all honey filling would taste like).


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