Dancer, Instructor, Choreographer

J Michael Winward

Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is the one recipe I make a point of making once and only once a year. On Thanksgiving. Much like the holiday itself, I don't think I could handle more than one pecan pie in a year. This is the one time every year I can be compelled to buy corn syrup, because I can't find the corn syrup from last year. Being an annual tradition, I have made more pecan pies than many other recipes I have made a point of making more than once, and yet the exact procedure always escapes me. Which is why, every year, I pull out my copy of the Perfect Vegetarian...  

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where I stash a caramel-stained print-out of Thanksgiving pie recipes that I Yahoo!mailed to myself back in 2008.


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As 2008 gets farther and farther away, I become increasingly fascinated by this bedraggled piece of paper. The date on the lower right-hand corner lets me know exactly how many pecan pies I've made so far (this year marks #8). The URL brings me back to a time before I had a laptop or a smartphone to access whatever recipes I might need, when it was not uncommon for me to Yahoo!mail myself important information (like this) and print it out for reference. When I could, in fact, go pub-crawling the night before Thanksgiving with everyone I ever knew in high school, and still get up early in the morning to make a pecan pie. "Was anyone ever so young?" asks Joan Didion, "I am here to tell you that someone was."


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3/4 cup pure maple syrup

3/4/ cup golden brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3 large eggs

1 tspn vanilla extract

1/4 tspn salt

1 1/2 cup pecans

Pie dough


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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface, set the dough in the pie pan, and place it in the freezer while preparing the filling. (As you can see, you may need to piece the dough together to fill in any gaps when transferring the dough to the pan. It's fine. Nobody cares.)


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Stir maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat until the butter melts.


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Set heat to high and boil the mixture for one minute. Remove from heat, and let cool for 45 minutes.


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Whisk together eggs, vanilla and salt.


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Gradually whisk the syrup into the egg mixture.


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Stir in pecans.


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Add filling to frozen crust, and bake until the filling is set and the crust is brown (50-55 minutes).


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If the crust starts to brown too much, you can always put some foil around the edge of the pan to protect it. I probably should have followed that advice when making this pie. But even still, the pan came home with no pie in it. And that's a good sign.

RecipesJ Michael Winward