Need new Thanksgiving dessert ideas? Try this pecan pie recipe with cast iron skillets or use the instructions for traditional pecan pie and pie crust recipe. Does your family love pecan pie as much as my family does? If so, I have a treat for you and these mini pecan pies are a big hit with the little ones!
“America has developed a pie tradition unequivocally and unapologetically at the sweet end of the scale, and at no time is this better demonstrated than at Thanksgiving.”
Pie:A Global History by Janet Clarkson
I have got to honestly say, that as far as I’m concerned, I lived a pretty charmed childhood. Not only was I blessed with two very loving parents and spent my childhood traveling the world as a Navy Junior, but also because I had a grandmother who lived with us for 13 of my first 16 years. Grandma loved to bake (I never had store-bought bread until her death when I was 16) so we always had bread, cookies, pies and other pastries on hand – one of our very favorite Thanksgiving desserts was this wonderful pecan pie recipe. She loved to sew, so we laid our heads upon embroidered pillowcases each night. And she he loved to garden, so we ate vegetables from our garden as often as possible. Not that my mom was remotely close slack, together the two of them were a fierce team. As a result, both my brother and I grew up appreciating good food and we both love to cook.
Grandma continues to have a warm presence our lives even 37 years after her death. I still have some of her embroidered pillowcases and some of her favorite recipes are still some of our favorite recipes. Baking for Christmas is not complete until I make her chocolate cookies, Mom always makes Grandma’s mincemeat pie for Christmas Dinner, and Thanksgiving Dinner isn’t complete without enjoying her Thanksgiving desserts which always included this pecan pie recipe and of course, pumpkin pie. I’m not really a pumpkin pie gal, much preferring apple pie and pecan pie. As such, even if it’s just 6 of us, we typically have 3 pies for Thanksgiving dessert(Pumpkin, Pecan pie and Apple) and 3 for Christmas (Pecan pie, Apple and Mincemeat).And while I really like having access to the world’s cookbooks via the world wide web, there really is something special about making a pie recipe that was written on a 3X5 card some 40-50+ years ago and kept in that original form in a cookbook with other equally aged, spotted and yellowed 3X5 cards. You know if those 3X5 cards have been kept and treasured all these years, then the recipes inscribed on them must be some kind of delicious. Handwritten recipe cards are another lost treasure, like handwritten notes and thank-you notes. Mom doesn’t quite remember Marilyn, who authored this pecan pie recipe; but believes she or Grandma were gifted this recipe while we were stationed in Hawaii 40+ years ago.
To put my new spin on this old recipe, I decided to make mini- pecan pies in cast iron skillets. I used my much favored Lodge Cast Iron 5″ Skillets. These pies follow on the heels of these Skillet Brownie Sundaes and these Individual Apple Crumbles.
My go-to pie crust recipe is the Pâte Brisée from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook . I made one pie crust recipe which was enough for 6 mini pies. The perfect pie crust, in my mind, will be tender, with flaky layers and won’t rely on the filling for flavor. I remember my grandma baking the scraps, maybe with a wee bit of sugar and cinnamon, and that treat being almost as good as the finished pie. Here are my tried and true tips for how to make the Perfect Pie Crust
For Pate Brisee
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 sticks, 1 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
For Pecan Filling
- 3 eggs, beaten well
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 2 cups pecans, I used 1 cup chopped and 1 cup whole
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
- With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
For Pie Filling
- Preheat oven to 300'
- Combine the first 4 ingredients and divide equally among 6 unbaked pie shells that have been placed on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes
- Remove and top pies with equal amounts of the pecans. I put the chopped in first then even sprinkle the whole pecans over the top.
- At this point, I also top each pie with a leaf or other decoration cut from pie crust remnants.
- Increase heat to 350' and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- If you would rather make a regular size pie, bake the filling in the pie crust at 300' for 40-45 minutes then gently push the pecans in the filling. increase the temperature to 350' and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes.
I only have 4 small skillets so I save the rest of the pie crust and filling in the refrigerator to make another time.
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and Marilyn
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With a flaky crust and a chewy, pecan-laden filling, this simple pecan pie recipe is outstanding. ‘How outstanding?’ you ask? Suffice it to say that 1 year later my kids are holding a grudge against their cousin who woke up in the middle of the night after last year’s Thanksgiving dinner and put a hurting on the remnants of the pecan pie. My kiddos went to Grammie and Pop Pop’s house the next night for dinner, certain in the belief that there would be leftover pecan pie for dessert. The look on their faces when my niece informed the table that there was no more pecan pie was sheer devastation.
So, am I the hero for making these individual portion mini pecan pies? You bet! Now I just need to label each skillet so that everyone gets their allocated amount of deliciousness.
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