Of all the wonderful pies I’ve had over my life, my favorite from back when I was a child is pecan pie. This southern classic has to be one of the sweetest pies I have ever eaten, and I recall baking it middle school with a pre-made pie shell and both light and dark corn syrups. This was the default recipe one found on the side of every Karo corn syrup bottle and back then, when it came to desserts, the sweeter the better. Now as an adult, I find pecan pies to be cloyingly sweet, but I still have fond memories of the dish, so I started experimenting with ways to reduce the sugar level while maintaining the integrity and the custardy structure of the pie.
My solution is, rather than using corn syrup for the entire pie, I substitute half of it with barley malt syrup, as malt syrup has less sugar than corn syrup. Plus it has a malty flavor that I love! I also reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe and added more pecans. And of course, I made my own pie shell. Overall, the recipe is pretty easy. There is some advanced preparation required with the par-baked pie shell, but you have that ready, it’s easy as pie. I recommend you make this dish for Thanksgiving or your next holiday gathering. Enjoy!
1 par baked 10-inch tart shell (see recipe below)
2 cups of pecans, chopped
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of organic corn syrup*
1/2 cup of organic barley malt syrup
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of unsalted melted butter, cooled
10-inch tart pan
Pie weights or dried beans
1. Heat the oven to 350°
2. Spread the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Let cool.
3. In a large bowl, add the eggs and sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
4. Add in the corn syrup, malt syrup, salt, vanilla extract and melted butter and whisk until combined.
5. Put the par-baked tart shell and the pan on top of a baking sheet. In the tart shell, add cooled pecans and spread evenly.
6. Give the custard mixture a final whisk and pour over the pecans.
7. Place the pecan tart in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes (turning the tart at the halfway mark) until the center is set.
*Organic Light Corn Syrup and Barley Malt Syrup can be found in most natural foods market like Sprouts or Whole Foods.
One 10-inch Tart Shell
1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 stick of cold butter (cut into cubes)
1/8 cup of cold water
1. To make the tart crust, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times.
2. Add butter. Pulse 3 to 4 times.
3. Add water. Pulse 2 to 3 times until the dough comes together.
4. Move the dough to work station and gently knead it until it just comes together, and then form into a disk. Do not overwork the dough or it will yield a tough crust.
5. Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
6. Heat the oven to 325°
7. Roll out the tart crust wide enough to cover the tart pan. This will be roughly be 13 inches in diameter
8. Press the crust down into the pan. Using a rolling pin, roll over the crust and to cut the portion hanging over the tart pan.
9. Place the crust and pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.
10. Meanwhile, cut out a round piece of parchment paper about 12-inch in diameter.
11. Remove the pie crust from the freezer and line the parchment paper over the crust. Add the pie weights. Par-bake for 20 minutes.
12. Once out of the oven, remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Let the shell cool completely on a wired rack.