I know, I know, I’ve fallen behind on my pie a month promise. I have been making pies – that’s the easy part (you know, like “easy as pie”). But somehow there was always so much going on that snapping photos and writing up recipes at the same time was more than I could do. This week it was a case of fortuitous timing. First, the world’s leading producer of macadamias celebrates its national holiday TODAY (well, I guess by the time this gets posted, it will already be tomorrow in Australia). So on to the second factor: I’ve been wanting to try using brown rice syrup in a nut pie, and my order from an online supplier came in the mail. Finally, we had a potluck lunch scheduled at work, which meant I could make the pie without being tempted to eat the whole thing myself.
This pie truly is as easy as pie, and if you want a recipe that will give you a reputation as a dessert maker, it is a good choice. The pie is similar in ingredients and method to traditional pecan pie, and in fact when I first made it the only difference was in the nuts. More recently, I’ve experimented with several different sweeteners, and by golly, I think this is it. I love the brown rice syrup’s nice light caramel flavor, but if it is not available you can substitute corn syrup and use brown sugar in place of half of the white sugar.
Adapted from a combination of many pecan pie recipes
- Your favorite single-crust 9-inch pie recipe
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown rice syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped macadamias (I used salted dry-roasted nuts in a jar and omitted the 1/2 teaspoon salt I would have otherwise used in the filling)
Bake the pie crust at 375 F. until it is all the way cooked through and just barely starting to brown (you may need to line with parchment or foil and weight, depending on your pastry).
While the crust is baking, lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and save out a little less than a tablespoon as an eggwash for the pie crust. When the pastry is just about done, use a whisk to beat the small amount of egg until it is foamy, then lightly brush all over the pie crust and return to the oven for another few minutes. At this point you can go ahead and lower the oven temperature to 275 F.
At the same time, melt the butter in a heat proof bowl over simmering water (if you have a light-weight metal bowl that will fit over a 2-quart saucepan, that works well). Quickly stir in the sugar and syrup and whisk until smooth, then before the mixture gets hot, whisk in the eggs, pouring them in a thin stream and stirring constantly. Continue cooking over the hot water while stirring until the mixture reaches 130 F. Why???… you may be wondering…..why, because that is what America’s Test Kitchen says to do in the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook recipe for pecan pie. According to the recipe testers, that is the way to get a perfect filling. I tried it and I think they have something there. However, if you wait a few minutes to pull your kitchen thermometer out of the drawer and by then the filling has risen to 149 F., don’t sob in abject sorrow while you pour it down the drain. Instead, press on and it will be just fine (at least that was my experience). Just be careful and use oven mitts when you are taking the bowl off the hot water pan, because the steam is dangerously hot.
Stir in the vanilla and macadamias, then pour the filling mixture into the hot crust. Bake on a lower oven rack until it is no longer jiggly, probably about 50 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven. Cool at room temperature before refrigerating. The pie is good at room termperature or cold, and a little bit of barely sweetened whipped cream on top is a nice touch.
The folks at America’s Test Kitchen emphasize the importance of pouring the filling into the crust while both are warm, so if you broke down the steps and baked the crust ahead of time, it would be a good idea to put it in the oven for a few minutes to re-heat while you are making the filling.
A couple of other notes:
Brown rice syrup is very sticky. It will be easier to get it out of the measuring cup if you first give the inside of the cup a little squirt of cooking spray.
I always use salted dry-roasted macadamias for this recipe, and the 6-ounce jar I buy is just the right amount (I eat one or two in the interest of quality control). There are pre-chopped macadamias in packages, generally with the chocolate chips and baking nuts, but I’ve tried them twice and both times they were stale, so I head for the salted nut shelf in the grocery store when I am shopping for this pie.
Speaking of shopping, regular readers may have noticed that I know how to stretch a food budget and sometimes give tips for low-cost recipes. Sorry, between the macadamias and the brown rice syrup, this isn’t one of those times, but it is a nice dessert for a special meal or an occasional treat. The pie is rich, so you can slice small and serve twelve.