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Thanksgiving Desserts: Pecan Pie for Beginners

Pecan pie is classic once-a-year Thanksgiving fare; rich and decadent, it’s the sort of festive dessert that makes a perfect ending to a celebratory meal. Fortunately, it’s easy to make from scratch – even if you’ve never done it before.

Yes, pecan pie is deliriously rich and high in fat and in calories, so you might as well make a really good one. Just make sure you don’t eat it all at once. You can get away with cutting back on the butter to about 2 Tbsp., and take comfort in the fact that almost all of the fat in pecans is the healthy kind.

To top your pecan pie, sweeten whipped cream with a little maple syrup – divine.

Easy Pecan Pie

1 single pie crust (here’s a recipe and pastry tutorial)

Filling:
2 cups (500 mL) pecan halves
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
2-4 Tbsp. (30-60 mL) butter, melted
3 large eggs
3/4 cup (185 mL) corn syrup
2 tsp. (10 mL) vanilla
1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL) salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast them for 5-7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until they are fragrant. Keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn.

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, butter, eggs, corn syrup, vanilla and salt; stir until well blended and smooth, making sure you get rid of any lumps of brown sugar. Stir in the pecans and pour the mixture into the crust.

Bake the pie for 50-60 minutes, until the filling is slightly puffed and set. If the pastry is browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with a piece of foil. Cool it completely on a wire rack before serving at room temperature.

Other things to do with it:

Chocolate Pecan Pie: Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips over the bottom of the pie shell before pouring in the filling.

Maple Pecan Pie: Replace the brown sugar with 1/2 cup white sugar or maple sugar, and use maple syrup in place of the corn syrup.

Fig Pecan Pie: Stir 3/4 cup chopped dried figs into the filling along with the pecans.

Photo credit: istockphoto/AbbieImages

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