Pecan Pie (The South)

This is an homage to both of my homes… I was born in the north, but I’ve lived in Texas longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. So, clearly I am neither a Yankee nor a Texan, but a little of both. Pecans are falling from the trees (or rather, the squirrels are chucking them at us whenever we get too close to the pecan tree in our backyard) here in Texas, so I had to whip together a classic pecan pie. For the pie…. There are probably twelve thousand recipes for pecan pie. Some fancy (add bourbon and bittersweet chocolate and candied orange peel) and some not… corn syrup and store-bought crust. I have my own recipe. It’s (in my opinion) the best pecan pie. It focuses more on the pecans and less on the moodge that holds them together…. Now, for my Yankee friends… here in Texas sometimes people say, pee-can, (emphasis on the ‘pee’) not pe-con and never peck-ann.

Deep Dish “PEE-can” Pie

Ingredients:

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 t pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

3 eggs lightly beaten

3 T melted butter (cooled)

3 cups toasted pecans. (These can be halves or pieces or both)

Pie dough for a single crust pie. (Either buy this or use a half recipe of the pate brisee that I listed in the apple pie recipe.)

  1. Combine the corn syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Add lightly beaten eggs and half of the pecans.
  2. Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell. Then add remaining pecans, pressing down slightly to sink them into the pie base. (This makes certain that you have lots of delicious pecan goodness on the top of the pie.)
  3. Place pie pan on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes. Check periodically and cover with foil if the edges of the crust or the pecans become too dark. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done.
  4. Cool for at least an hour.
  5. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

This was a fun, easy cookie recipe.
And I can console myself that despite the sugar and butter, it has a good deal of protein from the peanut butter. Right?
Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter — we used the grind-it-yourself peanut butter from Whole Foods.
1 cup light brown sugar — we substituted vegan sugar with no problem.
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of bashed up pretzels
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Cream together butter, peanut butter, and sugar until well combined. Add egg and vanilla. Mix until well combined. In separate bowl, sift together flour and baking soda. Stir to mix. Slowly add flour mixture to peanut butter mixture, stirring until smooth and well blended. (Note: Do not overmix.) Add pretzels (and any other add-in’s you want).
Form golf-ball size balls and place evenly on the prepared cookie sheet — about 3 inches apart. Chill the dough for approximately 10 minutes ( you could definitely skip this step if it’s winter or if you live somewhere cooler than Texas!) Using back of fork press flat.(Note: Each cookie should be 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick.)

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes (10 to 12 minutes for soft, chewy cookies) or until golden brown. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to baking rack. Cool completely.


Optional add-in’s: Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks. Chopped peanuts. Toffee bits. 

Harrison’s Cheesecake

Okay, life just got AWESOME(R). My son made a cheesecake for my birthday last year. It’s become the most requested cake in our family. It’s amazing. It’s adapted loosely from Martha Stewart’s New York Cheesecake recipe, but I have to say I actually like it more. And well, Martha Stewart is unlikely to be making me a birthday cake anyway.

Harrisoncheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harrison’s Cheesecake

FOR THE CRUST*

  • 10 graham crackers
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

*If you’d rather make this nut-free, take out the almonds and add in 2 more graham crackers for a total of 12 graham crackers.

 

FOR THE CAKE

  • Five 80z packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar (you may add up to another ¼ if you prefer a slightly sweeter cake.
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • One vanilla bean, halved and the seeds scraped from it.
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

 

 Directions:

  • One – Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans – you can either use two 9” pans or four 6” pans. (Don’t worry you can freeze the one(s) you don’t need right away. Line the bottoms of the pans with circles of parchment. This is really important. You’ll never be able to get the cheesecakes free of the pans otherwise.
  • TWO – Process graham crackers and almonds in a food processor or blender until very fine. You don’t want to over-process them. If you do, the almonds will begin to a form a paste and you’ll need to start again.  Combine graham cracker and almond crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to the pans and pat into an even layer using the bottom of a glass.
  • THREE — In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. (You can also do this by hand. It just takes a lot longer.)
  • FOUR — In a bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese. Mix until smooth Add sour cream, the vanilla bean seeds, and the vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix until smooth. Scrape the bowl between additions. Be careful not to over-mix.
  • FIVE – Pour cream cheese filling careful into the prepared pans. Tap gently on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
  • SIX — Place a large pan on the lower rack of your oven. Fill halfway with water. Then place your cheesecake pans on the upper rack. This will provide the needed moisture for your cakes.
  • SEVEN – For 9” cakes – bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Reduce to 325. Continue baking until cakes are set but still slightly wobbly in the center (about 15 minutes). Turn off oven; leave cake in oven with the door slightly ajar, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge of the cake. For 6” cakes — bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Reduce to 325. Continue baking until cakes are set but still slightly wobbly in the center (about 20 minutes). Turn off oven; leave cake in oven with the door slightly ajar, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge of the cake.