Sunday, November 17, 2013

Best Pecan Pie Ever

I've gotten a bit behind in this blog.  It's been that crazy combination of super busy leading to total sluggishness in the evening.  You know, where all you want to do is watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother and drink tea under a blanket.  I just finished up a busy season at work, paired with some organizational changes that felt like speedbumps.  Plus we've had family stuff on our minds.  We are redoing the kids' playroom from "Toddler" to "Little Kid".  Forget Swim Bike Run - yesterday was Paint Build Sew.  More of that today.  But with their toys and art supplies accessible, a great big new craft table, and reading tent I think it's a win.

Anyhoo, as penance I offer up this recipe - the best pie I have ever, EVER had.  We are practicing for Thanksgiving you see, so after my son made us pumpkin pie, my daughter stepped up to the plate for pecan.  Yes, I did mention it in my last blog post, but man that pie was so good and I've been thinking about it ever since, so it should be shared.

 Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie

Start with a pie crust - you can make your own or use commercial.  Then follow the directions on the Karo syrup bottle:
  • 1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
  • 1 cup mini-chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips (if using). Pour filling into pie crust.
  3. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

I love chocolate, so the addition of the chocolate chips was my idea.  It's important to use the mini chips as opposed to regular sized - I have used those before and they don't melt into the rest of the filling - the chocolate sinks and becomes a hard lumpy layer right on top of the crust.

While the pie is cooling, make the caramel sauce.  Caramel is easy - trust me.  We make it all the time for our cupcake business.  All you need is sugar, butter, cream, and a block of uninterrupted time (I know - the last one is the hardest.  But I urge you to pop in a cartoon for this, because I speak from experience that caramel will turn from clear to black in the time it takes to run downstairs to help someone with the bathroom).  We use the caramel recipe from TheKitchn (would recommend halving this recipe for the pie, unless you like extras:

Caramel Sauce
makes approximately 3 cups
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cream

Warm the cream in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Don't let it boil; just keep it warm.
Stir the sugar and water together in a large, heavy, high-sided pan over high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and allow it to boil until it reaches a deep amber color. This will take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, depending on your pan and your stove. You will see pale yellow streaks, then darker ones appear in the center of the bubbling sugar. When you see these, swirl the pan carefully by the handles and be attentive. At the very first sign of smoke from your caramel, turn off the heat. By now it should be very dark amber. (You are looking for a dark caramel here, because you will be adding cream, so don't flinch and take it off the heat when it's still just pale gold!)
Immediately pour in the cream. Use a long-handled whisk to whisk it vigorously. Be very careful — the caramel is going to steam and bubble up violently! Add the butter and salt and whisk smooth. Return to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.
Let cool then pour into a jar and refrigerate. This will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks.
Pour the finished sauce over the cooled pie and let cool as well.  Heaven.....
When not wolfing down 500 calorie slices of pie, I have been picking away at getting back to my triathlon training.  My podiatrist made me some nifty orthotics out of PowerStep insoles to wear with my running shoes, and they seem to help.  I took a few days in between Days 3 and 4 of Cast25K due to some impressive soreness, but I did squeeze in a quick run after work on Friday.
Llamas on the run.....
I'm up to the point in the program where you have to run intervals for a minute.  A minute seems to have become really long to run!  I feel like it's actually harder, because every runner I know, even die-hard marathoners, admit that the first few minutes of every run are the worst.  You never get to get over "the hump" and into "the zone".  Or I'm just a wuss.  Either way....
We've also had our first snow here, which is discouraging for outdoor activities.  But true to New England form, a few days after this picture was taken we had temps in the 60s.  Go figure.  The dark mornings and chill in the air definitely make it harder to get up and out the door to the gym at dark o'clock.  In fact, that has happened only once.  But again, I'm working on it.....
Brrrrr.... no way I'd getting out of bed

This morning Gypsy came and got me for my first bike ride since The Injury.  It's a cold, wet morning, and I was irrationally nervous to get back out on my wheels.  Much better to go with my tri bestie than solo.  Bless her for dragging my sorry balking blerching butt out of the house.  We did a slow (very slow - sucking wind on the hills!) ten miles just in time for the skies to open up and the rain to start.  Chilly, bone-soaking cold rain.  I'm still cold.  Whine.  BUT my foot held up ok, and we're going to try again next weekend.  
I'm getting back to the playroom triathlon for the rest of the day, working on crocheting the kiddo's leg warmers for dance, and generally trying to stay dry and warm.  I think I'll spark up the fireplace.  Yes.  Good idea.

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