This week I was faced with, what could only be described as, one of my absolute worst nightmare type situations. I had been invited to a party – a pot-luck Thanksgiving party – and had nominated myself to be the person in charge of Pecan Pie. I was pretty excited about this. There would be delicious food, and whilst I would not know anyone other than my best mate, it would be heaps of fun. So what could possibly go wrong? Well I suppose my pie could turn out be really crap, which would be very embarrassing, especially considering my affiliation with food. That would be really awful, but certainly not a worst nightmare type situation. No, it was something far worse than terrible pie. The day before I received the news that my friend was no longer able to attend the party. Which meant, other than my vague connection with the host, I would not know anybody. And this, my friends, is my version of hell.
My immediate reaction was to cancel. There was no way I could walk into a room full of people I don’t know and possibly have a good time. My level of social anxiety was far too great for that. Even the thought of it made me feel sick to the stomach. I would contact the host and explain that I couldn’t come. He would definitely understand. I can’t go because my friend isn’t going.
But it just sounded so pathetic.
What was my alternative anyway? Sit at home, telling myself how pathetic I was because I am not capable of going to a party alone? And then cry and eat the whole pie to myself? That would only drive another nail into the social anxiety coffin. And I refused to do that. Needless to say, that did not make it any easier. I was shaking, sweating, and spent the entire drive there fighting back the urge to vomit and cry. But I went anyway. And lo and behold I had an excellent time. I even made some new friends. And the pie was not only good, it was ridiculously good. In fact it could be put into ‘world’s best’ category. And ‘world’s best’ pie is an excellent way to win friends and influence people. So here is the recipe, and here I am, hoping to get invited to more parties.
World’s Best Pecan Pie
Adapted from the amazing Rose Levy Beranbaum. Serves 6 – 8 people.
for the pastry
- 85g cold butter, cut into rough cubes
- 143g pastry flour
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 65g cold cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 1.5 Tbsp double cream
- 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
for the filling
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup golden syrup
- 1/2 cup packed muscovado sugar
- 60g butter
- 1/4 cup double cream
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups pecans
- 80g dark chocolate, chopped
- more double cream, to serve
To make the pastry
If you can, have everything weighed up and kept cool in the freezer for 1/2 hour before you start, including the flour.
- Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds.
- Add the cream cheese and pulse again for about 20 seconds. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until you have the course sand consistency – it should only take a few seconds.
- Add the cream and vinegar and pulse until the mixture only just begins to come together.
- Place the mixture onto the bench and knead for a minute with the heel of your hand, until the dough becomes a little stretchy.
- Form the dough into a flat circular disc, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 210 degrees C.
- Once rested, remove from fridge and leave at room temp for 10-15 minutes so it’s easier to roll out.
- Grease a 23cm tart tin.
- Dust your bench top very lightly with some flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out a circular shape about 30cm in diameter. Fold into quarters then transfer to tart tin and unfold.
- Squeeze the pastry to the edges and fold the overhang into itself so the edges have a double layer. Allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or beans. Loosely wrap some foil around the edges so they don’t over brown. Blind bake for 20 mins.
- Remove pastry weights, prick the base several times with a fork and return to the oven for another 5 mins.
To make the pie
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
- Place all but the vanilla, pecans, and chocolate into a heavy based saucepan and put over a gentle to moderate heat.
- Stir continuously with a whisk to break up the ingredients.
- Simmer gently for about 10 mins, stirring regularly.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
- Place pecans into pastry shell.
- Strain mixture over the pecans. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. The pie will be a just a teensy bit jiggly.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or just place the bowl on top of the oven while the pie is baking) and drizzle over the top of the pie. Allow to cool before serving.