It’s difficult to justify the presence of a pecan pie recipe in a healthy cooking blog. My only defense is that pecan pie is my favorite pie, so I had to see if I could make it just a little healthier while keeping it delicious. The “delicious” part was easy – it’s the “healthy” part I had more trouble with. I think I did a decent job though, especially considering that pecan pie is basically a crust, a butter/sugar filling, and high-calorie pecans.
To healthily this recipe, I used whole-wheat crust and half the sugar – most pecan pie recipes call for at least 2 cups of sugar – 1 cup sugar and 1 cup corn syrup, while this pie contains 1 cup. I also opted to use maple syrup instead of corn syrup, because I consider corn syrup a highly processed food that’s best avoided.
The main reason for cooking the custard before pouring it into the pie shell is to ensure a very smooth, lump-free filling. It’s an extra step, but it’s not difficult and I think it’s worth it, as is the extra step of lightly toasting the pecans – it really brings out their flavor.
To avoid an “eggy” taste to the filling, it’s important to flavor it well. I like to use brown sugar because it’s more flavorful than granulated sugar. I always use high-quality vanilla extract, and add a tablespoon of bourbon. Both give the filling a delicious flavor. If you prefer not to use bourbon, consider using two teaspoons of good vanilla extract.
Resist the temptation to serve the pie warm. Allow it to cool the full four hours. Better yet, make it the day before. Cutting into a pecan pie too early will cause it to fall apart. And the custard filling tastes much, much better the day after, when it has had time to absorb all the flavors that went into it. On the day you make the pie, the filling might still have a slight eggy taste, even after 4 hours. The next day, it’s gooey and sweet and delicious, and the eggyness is gone. So try to make this pie the day before, allow it to cool 4 hours, then cover with foil and refrigerate. Take out of the fridge an hour before serving to allow it to come back to room temperature.
One last comment before I move on to the recipe: since pecan pie is so rich, I slice it into ten very thin slices rather than the customary 8-slices-per-pie.
Makes 10 slices
Total time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Prep: 30 minutes
Inactive: 20 minutes
Bake: 40 minutes
Cool: 4 hours
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons (100 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2-4 tablespoons cold water
1 egg white
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare pie crust following these directions: whole wheat pie crust recipe. Unlike my pumpkin pie recipe that calls for a deep pie dish, for this recipe, it’s best to use a shallow pie dish such as this Pyrex 9.5-inch pie dish.
2. While the dough for the crust is chilling in the freezer, spread pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast them in the preheated oven for 7 minutes, stirring once to prevent burning. Remove to a plate. Set aside.
3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add sugar and salt and stir until blended.
4. Reduce heat to lowest possible. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with maple syrup using a hand whisk. Slowly add to butter/sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Add flour and keep whisking until mixture is very smooth, about 2 more minutes.
5. Remove from heat. Whisk in the bourbon and vanilla, then stir in the pecans until well-coated.
6. Pour pecan mixture into the partially-baked pie shell. Bake around 40 minutes at 350 degrees F, until filling is set. Pie is fully baked when the center reaches 200 degrees F. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center (it should come out dry) or by gently tapping the center. If it springs back, the pie is ready.
7. Transfer the baked pie to a wire rack. Cool in pan 4 hours before slicing and serving, or better yet, cover with foil, refrigerate, and serve the next day, removing from fridge an hour before serving.
Nutrition per slice
Total Fat 27.4 g
Saturated Fat 9.5 g
Cholesterol 89.8 mg
Sodium 150.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 44.2 g
Dietary Fiber 3.8 g
Sugars 28.5 g
Protein 5.7 g
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 12 points