Having east coast Jews for parents my childhood was devoid of pie. Don’t get me wrong, there were tons of desserts around, just not pies. We enjoyed New York style cheesecakes, éclairs, napoleons, cream puffs, coffee cakes, chocolate brownies, rugelach, ice cream, cookies, puddings, brittle, flan, and…well…pretty much anything with chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. But not pie. Especially not pecan pie.
Candy I had to get at school, because, like non-diet soda and Slurpees, it was part of the “foods that will rot your teeth” smear campaign my parents launched in the early 80s. So we had to avoid it all costs, because it wasn’t worth the argument and all the cavities. My mother baked, but mostly her famous Lee’s coffee cake or Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookies– not pastries. I never woke up to pies filled with bright red cherries, glossy strawberries topped with whipped cream, or piping hot cinnamon apples that felt like Thanksgiving in your mouth; on our windowsill. And since my father thinks fruit is a “health food” meant for topping yogurt at breakfast, it rarely made it into our desserts.
Believe or not, it wasn’t until college that I really explored the world of buttery crusts and the bounty of fillings one finds nestled within them. My friends and I would take a break from campus life in Westwood and hunker down with our textbooks at the Abbey in West Hollywood. It was a coffee house back then, before becoming the behemoth gay bar and club that it is today. My gay friend Josh wasn’t the studying type, so he went to flirt with older men. I watched diligently in hopes of learning a trick or two, since I was still a “queerling” and just getting the hang of my new gay life. And our girlfriends actually studied. Since I never had the guts to flirt with older men in West Hollywood, especially not the ones interested in an 18-year-old college student; I familiarized myself with the dessert counter.
They had the most indulgent looking pies and cakes you can imagine. Everything was piled high with brownies, caramel, fudge, Oreo cookies, chocolate covered nuts, and chunks of Snickers bars. Talk about caloric overload! But there was this one pie that spoke to me. “Eat me” it whispered from behind the chilled glass. And that’s exactly what I did. To this day I think of it as my gateway-pie. The pie that started a craving I can’t seem to quench. It was the best pecan pie in the world!
This original recipe is my take on that wonderful pecan pie I had so many years ago. A pecan pie recipe that can comfort even the most uncomfortable closeted teens. It’s got hazelnuts for a rich crunchy texture, and uses a piecrust with almond meal that just kicks the nuttiness up a notch. It’s got something for everyone, with maple, bourbon, chocolate, and a little cayenne pepper for heat. Enjoy!
Mexican Chocolate Maple Bulleit Bourbon Hazelnut Pecan Pie with Bulleit Bourbon Whipped Cream
For the pie crust
- ½ the Eatsporkjew recipe for Almond-meal pie dough
- whatever store-bought pie crust, or recipe you want to use
For the Chocolate Pecan Pie Filling
*This recipe makes enough pecan pie filling for two regular store bought pie crusts, or a single larger capacity pie crust, with a little extra left over, which you can toss in the compost.
- 1 ¾ cups pecan halves (unsalted)
- 1 cup whole hazelnuts (unsalted)
- 6 oz good semisweet chocolate(a good bitter dark chocolate is best)
- 2 tblsp all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup dark unsulphured molasses
- 1 ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp maple extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tblsp Bourbon
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
For the Bourbon Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp powdered sugar
- 1 tblsp Bulleit Bourbon
Preheat the oven to 350°
Do not grease you pie plate if you’re using the Eatsporkjew almond-meal pie dough. There’s enough butter in the dough that a greased pie plate will just ensure your pie crust edges fall and slide down into the dish when you’re prebaking.
Take your chilled Almond-meal pie dough and roll it out into a ¼ inch thick circle on a floured work surface, adding enough flour as you go so the dough doesn’t stick. Lift the dough every few seconds and rotate as you go, so you can add more flour between the dough and the work surface. With all those buttery pockets the dough will be delicate, so work quickly and try not to handle the almond-meal pie dough too much with your warm hands.
Use your pie plate to determine how large the circle needs to be, and when you’re ready roll the pie dough gently onto your rolling pin and then unroll it over the pie plate. Push the pie dough into the creases and up against the edge of the pie pan.
Trim any excess dough, or fold it back on itself and press it between the dough and the pie plate edge. Place the pie dough and the plate in the freezer to harden for 20 minutes.
Pre-bake the pie with some parchment paper lining the chilled piecrust and some pie weights on top.
Bake the pie for 15-20 mins until the edges of the crust are just start to turn golden. Then remove the parchment paper and the pie weights, and bake for another 5 minutes to let the bottom of the pie set a little more, and then remove the piecrust from the oven to let cool. The pie dough might billow when you remove the weights but don’t worry, it will deflate when you take it out of the oven to cool, and if it doesn’t, you can help it along before it cools completely.
Toast the pecan halves and whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet in the oven for 12 minutes or until they start to get fragrant. Then remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla extract, maple extract, bourbon, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Once combined, add the melted butter and continue to mix until smooth.
In a medium bowl, toss the toasted hazelnuts, pecans and chocolate chips with the flour until everything is evenly coated.
Fill the piecrust with dredged nuts and chocolate chips.
Pour the liquid filling over and make sure to fill the piecrust evenly.
Cover the pie with aluminum and bake for 60 mins until the outer edges of the pie-filling look cooked and are starting to crack.
Then remove the aluminum and bake for another 20 minutes until the center of the pie looks set and the piecrust is a deep golden brown.
Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for at least an hour on a cooling rack.
For the whipped cream, whisk the cream in the bowl of a standing mixer on medium-high until it forms stiff peaks. Then fold in the powdered sugar and Bulleit Bourbon until well combined. Serve a dollop of the Bourbon whipped cream alongside the chocolate pecan pie.
What’s your favorite twist on the classic pecan pie?