The fall flew by! Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving? I am thankful for extra time off with my children. We love to get creative in the kitchen, especially when it comes to sweets. We were talking with our friend from the San Diego Honey Company about how we like to bake with unrefined sugars, such as local honey. We put our brains together and collaborated on this Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie. See if you might like to try it for Thanksgiving dessert!
If you have seen my recipes for Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie or Pumpkin Pie, you will know that I try to steer clear of corn syrup. I also often reduce sugar in my recipes. Honey adds subtle layers of flavor that compliment the other ingredients. Why not add flavor and avoid GMO’s?
To be honest, I bake the Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie every year. It’s just a winner. But this year I wanted to experiment with something new. Since bourbon goes so well with honey and pecan, I figured this one couldn’t go wrong.
To select which honey to use, I picked the brain of Lisann, who owns the San Diego Honey Company, and makes the infused flavors herself. You can talk to her directly at the Solana Beach Farmers market every Sunday. I also pick up her honey at Specialty Produce or Sprouts. (The super fresh pecans were from Specialty Produce.) I asked her which honey would go best in this recipe. “Vanilla Bean!” she said. The vanilla bean honey has a ton of flecks of real vanilla, which compliments the sweet custard of a pecan pie.
Next, I thought about my mom’s classic pecan pie recipe. It uses half a cup of light corn syrup and half a cup of dark corn syrup, as each have their own flavor notes. To mimic the match, I used half vanilla bean honey, which is in a light honey base, and half avocado blossom honey. If you have never had the pleasure of tasting avocado blossom honey (sounds like a total San Diego thing), it is super dark and tastes like molasses. For reals.
The only difference in baking with honey vs. corn syrup or maple syrup, is that you will want to heat it up slightly. This helps it to mix much easier, especially if other ingredients are cold. I warmed the honeys, brown sugar, and butter until just melted, and then let them cool before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. Do you bake or cook with honey?
- 8 ounces of unsalted butter
- 2 cups of flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ice water, about ½ cup
- ½ cup dark honey, such as avocado blossom honey
- ½ cup light honey, such as vanilla bean honey
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 T butter
- 3 eggs
- 3 T bourbon whiskey
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
- (optional) dash of cardamon bitters
- 2 cups of raw pecan halves
- Cut the butter evenly into small pieces, place on a plate in the freezer, and chill for about 30 minutes. Put ice and cold water in a measuring cup and chill.
- Place flour and salt in the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid mixer. When butter is frozen, use paddle attachment with mixer on the very lowest setting, and drop butter in a few pieces at a time. Stay close by. When the chunks of butter are slightly larger than pea size, dribble in the ice water until dough does not appear dry and JUST begins to come together.
- Move the dough to a dry surface and push together with the heel of your hand. Try not to knead or overwork the dough, you want it to come together so you can roll it out. This dough can be used right away! This amount makes enough for a top and a bottom, or two bottom crusts. You will only need one half for the pecan pie. If you are not going to use it right away, double wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for up to a month.
- After rolling out the crust and gently placing it in your pie dish, place it back in the refrigerator until it is ready to be filled.
- Preheat oven to 375*.
- Place the honeys, brown sugar and 3 T of butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Tip: you will want a spatula to scrape all of the sticky honey out of your measuring cups. Heat, stirring occasionally, until butter and sugar and just melted. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Lightly beat eggs by hand. Add bourbon, vanilla and bitters. (Use the larger amount of vanilla extract if your honey doesn't have awesome flecks of vanilla already in it.)
- Once the honey mixture has cooled, gently stir it into the eggs and pecans, until just combined. Pour into the prepared, unbaked, half pie shell.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until just set in the middle (meaning there is no jiggle when you wiggle.)
- Let cool completely.
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