Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Espresso Dates

This special pecan pie was less sweet and more earthy than a typical pecan pie. It originates from Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The bakery is known for blending American and Middle Eastern flavors. Browned butter, dates, espresso… amazing.

The sweetness in the pie is from a combination of Medjool dates and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, an ingredient I’ve been wanting to use. Although my mom said she prefers a more traditional pecan pie, my brother absolutely loved it. The recipe is from Food and Wine, adapted from the Soframiz cookbook by Maura Kilpatrick and Ana Sortun. We ate it topped with a choice of whipped cream or ice cream on Thanksgiving Eve with leftovers on Thanksgiving Day. 🙂

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
  • ice water

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces)
  • 1/2 pound Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

Make the Pie Crust:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas.
  3. Add 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse until the dough is evenly moistened. Gradually add more water if needed.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until it comes together.
  5. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round; transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edge of the dough under itself and crimp the edge.
  7. Freeze the piecrust for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Par-Bake the Pie Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Line the piecrust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edge.
  3. Remove the paper and weights and bake until the bottom is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

To Finish the Pie:

  1. After the crust has par-baked, reduce the oven temperature to 350°.
  2. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
  3. In a small skillet, cook the dates in the brewed espresso over moderate heat, stirring, until very soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and wipe out the skillet.
  4. Add the butter to the pan and cook over moderate heat, swirling, until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the golden syrup, espresso powder and salt.
  6. Whisk in the eggs, then gradually whisk in the brown butter until the filling is smooth.
  7. Set the pie plate on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Spread the espresso dates in the crust and scatter the pecans on top.
  9. Pour the filling over the pecans.
  10. Cover the edge of the crust with a pie shield to prevent over browning.
  11. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the filling is set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center. (Check earlier to prevent over-browning,)
  12. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely.
  13. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, as desired.

Note: The pecan pie can be covered and kept at room temperature for 3 days. The unbaked piecrust can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for 1 month.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

IMG_1275 Wow. This was delicious- and pretty. 🙂 A pumpkin and pecan pie in one too! The contrasting textures of the two fillings was fabulous. This recipe is from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I weighed (almost) all of the ingredients- much faster and more precise. I also used an instant-read thermometer to gauge whether the fillings were finished baking. This recipe is labor intensive- I made the pie crust a day in advance (along with my apple pie crusts!) and kept it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator overnight.

Pie Crust For the 9 1/2-inch Deep Dish Pie Shell:

  • 8 T (1 stick/4 oz/113 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 T (6.5 oz/184 g) pastry flour or bleached all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 1.9 g (1/4 plus 1/16 teaspoon) fine sea salt
  • 0.7 g (1/8 plus 1/32 teaspoon- a dash) aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz/85 g) cream cheese, cold
  • 2 T (30 ml/1 oz/29 g) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) cider vinegar
  1. Cut the butter into small (about 1/2 inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a gallon-size reclosable freezer bag, place the flour, salt, and baking powder and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place the flour mixture into the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds, or until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the cubes is larger than the size of peas. (Toss with a fork to see the size better.)
  6. Remove the cover and add the cream and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together.
  7. Spoon it into the plastic bag. Hold either side of the bag opening and alternate using the heel of your hand and your knuckles to knead and press the mixture, from the outside of the bad, until most of the mixture holds together in one piece.
  8. Cut open the bag and empty the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap.
  9. Use the plastic wrap to finish kneading together the dough just until it feels slightly stretchy when pulled.
  10. Flatten the dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  11. Roll the dough: Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If necessary, let it sit for about 10 minutes, or until it is soft enough to roll.
  12. Starting from the center and moving outward, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thick on two overlapping pieces of plastic wrap, about 15 inches in diameter (I used a tapered rolling pin which helps prevent the edges from becoming too thin.) Two or three times during rolling, flip the dough over and lift off of the plastic wrap to prevent it from creasing the dough. The dough should be large enough to  line the bottom of the pie plate and extend 3/4 inch past the edge of the rim.
  13. Line the pie plate: Transfer the dough to the pie plate and ease it into place. If necessary, trim the edge to extend 3/4 to 1 inch from the edge of the plate. Fold the dough under so that it is flush with the outer edge of the pie plate. If desired, crimp the border using your forefinger and thumb or a fork. (*The pie plate must be deep dish with a rim to hold both fillings.*)
  14. Cover the pie shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes or up to 3 hours.
  15. Set an oven rack at the lowest level and place the baking stone or baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (convection) for 45 minutes or longer before baking.

IMG_1183 For the Pecan Filling:

  • 1/3 cup (79 ml/4 oz/113 g) golden syrup or corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed (3.8 oz/108 g) light brown Muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 4 (to 6) large egg yolks, at room temperature (1/4 cup plus 2 tsp/69 ml/2.6 oz/74 g)
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml/2 oz/58 g) heavy cream
  • 4 T (1/2 stick/2 oz/57 g) unsalted butter
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz/170 g) pecans, coarsely chopped
  1. Have a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a 2 cup glass measure with a spout.
  2. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the corn syrup, brown sugar, egg yolks, cream, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is uniform in color and just begins to thicken slightly, without letting it boil, 7 to 10 minutes. (160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer)
  3. Pour the mixture at once into the strainer and press it through. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Spread the pecans evenly over the bottom of the chilled crust.
  5. Starting at the center, with the measuring cup’s spout just above the pecans, slowly pour in the filling, lightly coating the nuts and moving from the center to the edge. Once the filling is completely poured, the pecans will float. Gently shake the pie plate to distribute the pecans more evenly.
  6. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for 16 to 22 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and just beginning to bubble around the edges. The filling will shimmy slightly when moved and an instant-read thermometer inserted near the center should read 185 to 190 degrees.
  7. Cool the pecan filling on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. (I had to reposition the hot crust back up the sides of the pie dish with the back of a wooden spoon before it cooled.)
  8. Prepare the pumpkin filling while the pecan filling is cooling. Move the baking stone or baking sheet to the middle rack in the oven.

IMG_1292 For the Pumpkin Filling:

  • 1 cup plus 2 T (10 oz/283 g) unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed (3.8 oz/108 g) light brown Muscovado sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml/4.1 oz/116 g) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (79 ml/2.9 oz/81 g) milk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the pumpkin, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt and bring the mixture to a sputtering simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick and shiny. (The mixture may have some small lumps, which will disappear when processed.)
  2. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the mixture into a small food processor (I used an immersion blender in the pot) and process for 1 minute.
  3. With the motor running, add the cream and then the milk and process for several seconds, or until smoothly incorporated.
  4. Scrape down the sides and add the eggs and vanilla. Process for 5 seconds, or just until incorporated.
  5. Gently ladle the pumpkin filling over the pecan filling, with the ladle held just above the surface, so that it does not break through the pecan layer. If necessary, smooth the surface evenly with an offset spatula.
  6. Place a foil or silicone baking ring on top of the pie crust edges to protect from over browning. Set the pie on the baking stone or baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes (convection) or up to 45 or 55 minutes in a standard oven. The pie is done when a knife inserted 1/2 inch between the center and the sides comes out clean. The pumpkin filling will have puffed and the surface dulled, except for the center and the filling will shake like jelly when moved. An instant-read thermometer should read 190 to 195 degrees when inserted in the center.
  7. Cool then pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, or until cool to the touch, before topping with the pecan decor and serving.

IMG_1271 For the Pecan Decor:

  • approximately 12 pecan halves, lightly toasted if desired
  • golden syrup or corn syrup
  1. Turn each pecan rounded side up. Brush the tops with the corn syrup and then dab a little on the bottom of each one  before arranging them around the outside edge of the pie.
  2. The pie can be stored at room temperature for 2 days; refrigerated for 4 days.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Pecan Pie Bars

IMG_1169

I used to think that I wasn’t a fan of pecan pie, so, I have never made it before. This was our absolute favorite dessert this Thansgiving. It pays to branch out! 🙂 This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Sarah Jordan. It has an easy press-in crust and gooey filling. We ate them at room temperature. AMAZING!!

For the Crust:
  • 2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour whisked with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the flour-and-salt mixture.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1 1/4 inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick. Refrigerate until firm (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  3. Bake the crust for 25 minutes (convection) to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.

IMG_6422

For the Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • Baked Press-In Crust (recipe above)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over moderate heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the light corn syrup and dark brown sugar, then whisk in the eggs until thoroughly blended. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt and stir in the pecans halves until combined.
  2. Pour the pecan filling into the prebaked pie bar crust and bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely. Cut into bars and serve.
Make Ahead: The pecan pie bars can be refrigerated overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
 IMG_1178

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