Pumpkin Bourbon Pecan Pie

A video tutorial for this recipe is located at the bottom of the page…

I love to bake, especially pies, even though I don’t eat dessert most of the time.  However, my two favorite pies in the world are pecan pie and, naturally, pumpkin pie.  My friends finally convinced me to meld the two pies together into one…and thus was born my pumpkin pecan pie.

But what about the bourbon, you ask?  In my effort to try to reduce processed ingredients in my recipes, I had a come-to-Jesus moment about corn syrup.  While I’m not as terrified of corn syrup as I am of high-fructose corn syrup (when was the last time you saw high-fructose corn syrup on grocery store shelves?!?), there’s still something that doesn’t feel right to me about reading the words “CORN SYRUP” in a recipe…especially when it’s one of the primary ingredients.  And…come on…was my great-great-great grandmother pulling out a bottle of Karo corn syrup when she made pecan pie in the mid 1800s?  I don’t think so.

Yet somehow EVERY RECIPE ON EARTH for pecan pie seems to call for either light corn syrup or dark corn syrup.  That doesn’t smell right to me.

So I decided to forge ahead into uncharted waters and make my own sweet syrup from more familiar, less processed ingredients like brown sugar, maple syrup, and bourbon.  “But isn’t bourbon a processed ingredient?” you ask.  Actually, brown sugar is a processed ingredient, too.  As is maple syrup.  But I can make bourbon in my kitchen.  I can’t make corn syrup.  To do that I have to extract corn starch from corn (God only knows how to do that), then either pressure cook it with hydrochloric acid, or ferment it with amylase and several other enzymes.  I’d rather use bourbon, thank you very much!

BOURBON REDUCTION

In a saucepan, combine:

1 cup bourbon, whiskey, Scotch
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/4 cup maple syrup

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and stir constantly for about 5 minutes.  It will boil over unless you keep stirring and/or blowing on the surface.  The bubbles will change from looking fizzy and small to looking glassy, sticky, and large.  It will have reduced to around 3/4 cup.  Pour back into the liquid measuring cup.  If you have much more than 3/4 cup, reduce further.  Let it cool.

CRUST

I like to make my mom’s 5-minute oil crust for most pies.  It’s flaky, tender, and delicious, and considerably healthier for you than a butter pastry.  In a bowl, combine:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached flour)
1 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons sugar

Stir them together.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine:

1/3 cup canola or light-flavored olive oil
3 generous Tablespoons milk (let the milk just overflow the Tablespoon as you measure)

Whisk together the milk and oil, then add it to the flour.  Gently scrape the flour into the wet ingredients, stirring gently until they are combined.  If you still have dry flour in the bowl, add a splash more milk.  Gather the crumbs together and press into a ball.  Roll the crust out between two sheets of wax paper or parchment until it is about 1″ wider on all sides than your deep dish pie plate.  Remove the top layer of wax paper, and use the bottom layer to lift the crust and place it into the pie plate.  Gently remove the final layer of wax paper.  Tuck the edges of the crust to form a rim around the pie.  Then flute with your fingers.  (See the video if you’re confused.)

PUMPKIN LAYER

1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade is best, but canned is okay.  See my pumpkin pie video for instructions on how to make your own puree)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, it doesn’t matter)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon each cinnamon, ginger, cardamom
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and cloves

Whisk all together until smooth, set aside.

PECAN LAYER

In a bowl, pour the 3/4 cup of bourbon reduction you made earlier, then add:

3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping cup chopped pecans

Whisk together the ingredients.  Then assemble the pie by pouring the pumpkin filling first, smoothing, and then carefully adding the pecan layer on top.  Bake on the middle rack of a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Test by inserting a knife into the center of the pie.  It should come out clean without streaks.

Let cool fully, at least 2 hours, before slicing.

Here is a video tutorial showing how to bake this pie!

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