once upon a chef

Brown Butter and Bourbon Pecan Pie

Made with dark brown sugar, golden syrup, brown butter and a shot of bourbon, this pie is richer with a more complex praline flavor — and also less cloyingly sweet — than your typical pecan pie. And the good news is that it barely requires any more effort.


                       FOR THE CRUST – 1½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled with a knife – ½ teaspoon salt – ⅛ teaspoon baking powder – 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, sliced into ¼-inch pieces – 3 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening, in 3 pieces – 4 tablespoons very cold water                        FOR THE FILLING – 5 tablespoons unsalted butter – ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar – ⅔ cup light corn syrup – ½ cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s or King) – 3 large eggs, at room temperature – 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional but highly recommended) – 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract – ½ teaspoon salt – 2½ cups pecan halves (coarsely chop half of them, and leave the rest whole) – Unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Step #1

Make the Crust To begin, combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and shortening in pieces. (You can use all butter if you like, but shortening helps the crust hold its shape and makes it a little easier to work with.)

Step #2

Pulse until you have coarse crumbs with lots of pea and chickpea-sized clumps of butter and shortening within. Add the water and pulse a few times until the mixture is just evenly moistened and very crumbly. It will not come together into a mass — that’s good!

Step #3

Dump the crumbly dough out onto a work surface. Gather it into a ball. Then pat the dough into a 5-inch disc and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days to rest.

Step #4

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and dust your work surface lightly with flour. Place the dough on top and sprinkle a little flour over the dough..Roll the dough, turning it frequently and adding more flour as necessary so it doesn’t stick, into a 13-inch circle.

Step #5

Fold the dough into quarters without creasing it and transfer it to a 9-inch deep dish pie pan (the pan should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep). Gently fit the dough into the pan, easing it inwards rather than stretching it outwards. Don’t worry if it tears, just patch it right back up.

Step #6

Trim the edges to 1/2-inch beyond the lip of the pie pan, if necessary. Turn the edges under to create a rim on the crust (you can use the scraps to patch in any thin areas); then press the rim against the lip of the pan, forming it into an even edge as you go. Using your fingers, crimp the rim. Place the crust in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes while you heat the oven.

Step #7

Remove the crust from the refrigerator and cover with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the crust at least halfway full with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is pale and partially cooked. This step, called blind baking, ensures that the crust is crisp on the bottom (otherwise the wet filling will prevent the crust from cooking through). Remove the parchment and dried beans/pie weights and set aside while you prepare the filling.

Step #8

Make the Filling In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter smells nutty and is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Once you smell that nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and pour the browned butter into a large heat-proof bowl to cool.

Step #9

To the bowl with the brown butter, add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and golden syrup and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until smooth. 

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Step #10

Sprinkle the pecans in the baked pie crust and then pour the syrup mixture over them. The nuts will float to the top. (For a prettier finished pie, use your fingers to flip over any whole pecans that are upside down, and arrange the whole pecans evenly on the surface.)

Put the pie on the baking sheet and bake until just set and bubbling at the edges, 50-55 minutes. The pie will still wobble just a bit when nudged; that’s okay – it will continue to cook as it cools. Remove the finished pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely, about 4 hours or overnight. For the neatest slices, use a serrated knife to gently saw through the pecans. Serve at room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!