Friday, November 16, 2012

Prepare for Thanksgiving Dessert: Pecan Pie with Cream Cheese Crust

      Janna Traver, Executive Chef of KU Dining Services is providing us with one of her specialty Thanksgiving desserts!  Traver's Pecan Pie recipe is modified from The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and is described as her "favorite pecan pie" (It is actually a tart so the crust to filling ratio is higher, and a bit less guilt ridden).  This pie has a pretty good story to it and we felt like there was no one that could tell it better than Traver herself.  Keep reading to find out!

     Pecan pie became my responsibility when I was an undergrad at KU. My Great Aunt had always made perfect pecan pies, but she passed away without sharing the recipe. After many years, post culinary school, I ran across Beranbaum’s book and bought it specifically for the crust listed below. I have altered the original to yield a bit more crust and to allow for a decorative crust.  I have never replicated Aunt Jeannette’s pie but this one has become a favorite at Thanksgiving.

            -Janna Traver, Executive Chef of KU Dining

Ingredients for Crust:

9Tbsp       butter, salted, chilled
1½C          all-purpose flour
¼tsp         baking powder
3oz           Philly cream cheese, chilled
3-4Tbsp    ice water
2tsp          cider vinegar


*Chill all ingredients and equipment for 30 minutes prior to assembly. This helps create a flaky crust as you don’t want the butter to completely blend (or cream) into the flour mixture.

In a Food processor- Place dry ingredients into food processor bowl with metal blade attachment. Dice the cream cheese into 6-7 pcs, place in bowl with dry ingredients.

Pulse mixture 3-4 times until mixture looks like coarse sand

Cube the butter into 1 tbsp chunks, add to bowl

Pulse mixture 2-3 times to break the butter into pieces the size of peas Remove lid and drizzle in cider vinegar (malt or white will also work)

For the ice water, place 4 tbsp of water in a glass with a few pieces of ice
Replace the lid and run the processor while drizzling in the ice water, be careful not to add any ice cubes. The flour will start to form a ball. Stop the processor even if you have not used all the water. (The amount of water will vary depending on humidity levels, product freshness among other factors)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured board or clean table top. Working quickly, use the palms of your hands to form the dough into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. 

Chill dough for a minimum of 2 hours prior to working.

Ingredients for Pecan Pie filling:

1½C          Rough chopped pecans (best if chopped by hand the commercial 
                 product is diced to finely)
4 each      egg yolks
1/3C         dark corn syrup
½C           dark brown sugar
4Tbs        salted butter
1/4C         heavy cream
2tsp         vanilla extract
1Tbs        bourbon* (optional, if using bourbon cut back 1 Tbsp cream)


Preheat oven to 350

Roll out dough to ½ cm and place in 91/2 inch fluted tart pan, trim off 
excess. (Save excess dough for decorations later)

“Blind bake” crust, place foil or parchment paper over pie crust and fill with 
rice or beans, bake crust at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 
While crust is baking, make filling.

In a medium sauce pan combine eggs, syrup, brown sugar, butter, and cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 7-10 minutes or until mixture starts to thicken slightly. Do not bring to a boil or your eggs will scrambled eggs in sugar, yuck! At this point you can strain your mixture, but it is not mandatory. Add in vanilla (bourbon) and the nuts. Pour mixture into cooked crust.

Roll our reserved dough and cut into leaf shapes, or any shape desired and place around outer edge of tart. Keep shapes smaller than a silver dollar or they may sink into the tart. Lightly brush the leaves with heavy cream. This will make them shinny when baked.

Bake pie on middle oven shelf for 20 minutes or until the filling puffs slightly and bubbles form around the edge. Cool pie for at least 1 hour or overnight in a cool spot, not the refrigerator or the pie will become soggy. I serve this with fresh whipped cream flavored with maple syrup and vanilla.

      Stay tuned for more KU Dining holiday recipes through the rest of the semester! Try them out, snap a picture, tag KU Dining Services on Facebook and let us know what you think!

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