A Tale of Two Pies: Pumpkin and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do the Monday after Thanksgiving is think about how much you ate Thursday-Sunday. Still, I think many of us reminisce about the delicious pies and meals we ate, if only to get us through the rest of the work week.

Plus, it’s “Pandemic Monday,” as I saw someone say on Instagram. We could use a little Thanksgiving nostalgia. We can concentrate on the quality of our food, not the quantity.

Which brings me to these Thanksgiving pies. I’ve made a pie for Thanksgiving for the past five or six years. It started with me using a frozen crust and making the filling, and not correcting my grandma when she incorrectly assumed I made the crust and complimented it, to actually making everything by hand. There’s no shame in not making your own crust, but I find pie making therapeutic. It’s a struggle at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can be very relaxing, kind of like knitting is for some people.

This year, I decided to make a chocolate bourbon pecan pie (pictured below). I was only going to make this pie because I was cooking for two, and I didn’t think we needed two pies for two people. Then I realized we absolutely needed two pies. I couldn’t skip making pumpkin pie. Even though I prefer chocolate bourbon pecan, pumpkin will always hold a special place in my heart.

Making two pies instead of one is easier in a lot of ways, too. Most crust recipes make two crusts, so you end up with two, anyway. Most ovens also fit two pies and they bake at about the same temp, so you can just pop them in and get both out of the way at once.

If you don’t want to make two pies at once, though, you can always roll out both crusts and freeze one for later. The thought of having spontaneous pie sounds really appealing, especially as we head into the gloomy winter months.

I used Nicole Rucker’s recipe for buttery pie crusts from her cookbook, “Dappled,” but you could use any crust to make these pies. Just make sure you blind bake the one for the pumpkin pie, because that one tends to get soggy if you bake the crust and filling together.

Some tips for pie baking:
1.) About halfway through baking, put a pie of aluminum foil on top of the pie. This will prevent the crust from getting too done.
2.) Use glass pie tins so you can see the bottom as it bakes. Once the bottom is as golden brown as the crust, your pie is probably done, or at least close to being done.
3.) Don’t be scared of a jiggly center of a custard-based pie (like pumpkin). It will eventually firm up as it cools.

If you want step-by-step instructions for these pies, visit my Instagram page and click on my “Baking III” story.

Here’s a song to get you started on your pie journey. Have I mentioned how much I like Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas album?

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

one pie crust, rolled out, fitted to a pie tin, and chilled in the fridge
450 g butternut squash or pumpkin purée, homemade or canned
3 large eggs
250 g light brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
240 ml heavy cream
60 ml whole milk

Directions

Whisk the pumpkin, eggs, and brown sugar in a bowl until combined. Add the cornstarch, sea salt, ground spices, and milk, and whisk vigorously until combined.

Par-bake/pre-baked your prepared and chilled pie crust for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F. Make sure to put beans or pie weights on top of parchment paper to weigh down the crust as it bakes.

Once the crust is done baking, fill it 3/4 of the way with the pumpkin filling. Bake the pie for about an hour, checking at 50 minutes and then every 5 minutes after for doneness. You want the middle to be slightly jiggly but almost set. Place foil on top of the crust about halfway through so the crust doesn’t burn.

Allow the pie to cool at room temp for at least 2 hours, and then refrigerate afterward. Enjoy!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients

one pie crust, rolled out, fitted to a pie tin, and chilled in the fridge
96 g light corn syrup
96 g light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp bourbon
320 g chopped pecans (roasted & salted are best)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, warm melted butter, salt, vanilla extract, and bourbon in a large bowl. Mix in the chopped pecans and chocolate and stir to combine. Transfer the filling to a prepared pie crust, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake for 50 minutes, placing foil on top about halfway through.

Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool at room temp for at least two hours. Refrigerate any leftovers or if you’re saving the pie for the next day. Enjoy!

About Emily Wasserman

Hi! My name is Emily and I'm a writer based in St. Louis. If I was stranded on an island and could request three items of food, they would be pain au chocolat, enchiladas, and Neapolitan pizza.
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