November 26, 2019
GUEST BLOGGER ALEX DIFIGLIA MAKES A PECAN PIE
Pie making, for me, has always been a healing and ritualistic practice. I didn't start making pies until about ten years ago, I was unemployed and processing a breakup, living along the west bay in Traverse City with two dear friends who shared an affinity for preserving foods. One night I found a huge bag of golden yellow peaches in the freezer. "Oh those! Two summers old. Please use them, there are more!"
Inspired by those golden orbs, I decided I would teach myself to make a solid crust. I have always loved eating pie but the lore around the difficulty of crust making kept me from experimenting with baking them. I didn't think I had the patience or the skills necessary to make the flaky buttery crisp crust I desired. Reclaiming my independence through a stereo-typically feminine act felt insane, but I decided to turn it on its head. I was doing this for myself. I was doing this to gain a skill. I was doing this to heal and share some summer warmth with friends. (Years later I read this piece by Kate Lebo, and realized I was not the only one.)
I truthfully can't even remember if the pie tasted any good, but I do remember feeling a sense of accomplishment in my feat. I did something I had always felt I couldn't do, and it was fine. I felt better.
That first pie spawned a love of pastry, a job in a bakery, many dear friendships, dozens of late nights over ovens, friendly competitions, a residency devoted to pie baking and feeling, pies for events, pies for weddings, an archive, a hotline.
Still, every time I pull out my supplies to bake, I am transported back to that feeling I gained after baking my first pie, of accomplishment, of pure love, of recognizing the challenge and making the most of it.
Working with Suu Kuu's The Giving Tree has magnified my love of making food and experiencing its healing properties. I put my love into what I make to share with my community, and it heals me, calms me, brings us closer together. I have continued to modify this recipe over the years, but is one that I always come back to for its simplicity and saltiness. I hope you enjoy.
Chocolate Pecan Pie with Maple Whipped Cream
2 1/2 cups pecan halves
2 TBSP molasses
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. sugar (you can also substitute more honey or maple syrup here if you don't want to use sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4.5 oz dark chocolate (70% or higher, I like the bitter stuff!)
Giving Tree Whipped Cream:
8 oz. heaving whipping cream
maple syrup to taste (I usually do 2-3 TBSP)
6 mL (8 droppers full) of Suu Kuu The Giving Tree Hemp for Recipes
salt (I like a saltier whipped cream and usually do 2-3 pinches)
(you can also add a little vanilla or bourbon here too)
(you can use any recipe you like, you'll just need one for the bottom)
My pie crust recipe ratio for 1 crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
8 TBSP butter (cold cold cold)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
4-5 TBSP water (cold cold cold)
set the oven to 375 degrees
while the oven is pre-heating I usually make my crust if I haven't already and get it into the fridge. it should chill for at least 30 mins. sometimes it's easier to make it up the night before.
spread the pecans out on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 10 mins. you'll want to keep an eye on them, they tend to burn pretty quickly. around 10 minutes you'll be able to smell them, but they won't have changed color too intensely.
pull the pecans out of the oven and place them in a bowl to cool.
while the pecans are cooling you can mix up the filling.
beat the eggs and sugar until they are light yellow, but not fluffy.
beat in the liquid sugars, salt, and vanilla (you can also add spices here if you feel compelled to, cinnamon works well!) until combined
roll out your pie crust into your pie plate, crimp the edges or use a fork to pat them around the edge.
put it back in the fridge to chill while you assemble the last piece.
over a double boiler melt your chocolate. you'll want to melt it just until all the pieces are melted and smooth, no need to bring to a boil.
using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly into the bottom of the pie crust.
gentle place the pecans on top of the chocolate.
pour the liquid filling over the pecans. be sure to use your spatula to make sure all the pecans have liquid on them, but they do not need to be fully submerged.
put the pie in the oven at 375 for 15 minutes.
turn the oven down to 350 for the remaining time (usually another 30 minutes, but it can vary on your oven and plate size) the center of the pie will puff up, but won't have any liquidy movement when you jiggle it. the top will be dark brown (some of the nuts on top might be very dark, this is OK!)
if you aren't making whipped cream put a small pinch of finishing salt on top when you pull it out of the oven.
let it cool.
make up the whipped cream however you prefer (I use a whisk attachment to my immersion blender, but a kitchen-aid whisk, or whisking by hand is great)
add cream, maple syrup, salt, *bourbon*, and Giving Tree Formula into a chilled bowl and whisk until peaks form.
be careful not to make butter. ;-)
pie can be served room temperature or warm if you don't want to wait, with a plop of whipped cream.