by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez / Friday, November 16, 2012
Spiced Maple Pecan Pie w/ Star Anise
Growing up, pie was always a Thanksgiving "thing". Which, I suppose, is why I still associate pie with this time of year. I mean, I love pie any time. Pies bursting with summer berries make me weak in the knees. And don't even get me started on the gooey, unctuous coconut and almond pie-slash-tart that instantly makes me think Easter. Oh! Or maybe the cheek-tingling, mouth-puckering layer of lemon blanketed in that light as air meringue crust. Ai-yi-yi.
Wait, where was I? Why am I so easily distracted? And why do I have the urgent need to walk away and cut myself a slice of breakfast pie to go with my coffee?
The pies never varied. The pumpkin pie recipe came straight from the back of the Libby's can...and the pecan recipe straight from the bottle of Caro. But I looked forward to them every single year. Mom's favorite was always the pecan. My aunt preferred pumpkin. But me? I sidled up to that table full of ladies and cut myself a thin slice of each. Pumpkin with a fat blop of Cool Whip and pecan as-is.
I don't remember the exact year that I transitioned from racing to the pool table to chatting around the table. Instead of being called to the table "if" I was ready for pie, I sat willingly. It was probably somewhere around the time I started drinking coffee. Spiked with Kahlua.
- 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
- 10 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces
- ~5 Tbs. ice water
- 1 c. maple syrup
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 8 whole star anise
- 2 c. pecan halves
- 3 large eggs
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 Tbs. dark rum or spiced dark rum
- 1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
- ice cream, whipped crème fraîche or barely sweetened whipped cream, optional
This particular version of pecan, however, could very well be the best that I've ever tried. It stays true to the "regular" pecan pie - no chocolate or pumpkin in there to muck up the gooey goodness. Instead of corn syrup, it uses maple syrup that is reduced with some brown sugar and infused with star anise. We love any sort of anise flavor in this house. From the anise seed I use in my mole to the fresh tarragon used in béarnaise or tarragon cream sauce to this perfectly perfumed pie - it may be one of my favorite flavors.
Ummmm...and you know what the next version I want to try is? It's mi amiga Leslie's Cajeta Pecan Pie (plus, she's made another type of pie, Pay de Cajeta)! Tell me that doesn't sound amazing. You should totally go over to her place and check it out.
Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food. We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out. Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it. Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you. It's not a competition, it's a showcase. We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it.
Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
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Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, single malt Scotch, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.