bacon bourbon pecan pie

Let’s start November off the right way, shall we? It is the month for indulging, after all.

Bacon. Bourbon. Pecan. Pie. The ultimate of pies.

I first started dreaming of this pie two years ago. I was obsessed with the idea of bacon fat pie crust. At the time, I really thought a sweet-savory sweet potato pie was going to be the answer. It was fine. But not life altering. So I went back to the drawing board the following year, and it went from being a sweet potato pie to a pecan pie, which was the obvious solution. Though it did require a little bit of experimenting (bacon or no bacon in the filling?). But then I found the sweet spot.

Bacon fat pie crust + gooey, crunchy pecan filling = love at first bite. A little bit of bacon fat in the pie crust really makes magic happen; it’s an instant flavor booster and makes for an ultra flakey base. And the pecan filling, spiked with bourbon and maple syrup, gets a subtle hint of savoriness with the addition of finely chopped bacon. And there you have it. Bacon and bourbon dreams really do come true. But you’ve gotta be careful with this sort of pie – it’s highly addictive. You might just end up eating straight from the pie pan if you don’t check yourself. You have my blessing, of course.

bacon bourbon pecan pie

makes 1 9-inch pie, serves 8

bacon bourbon pie crust (from the LA times)

1-1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

3 tablespoons cold bacon grease or shortening, cut into 3 pieces

5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes

2 tablespoons cold bourbon

2 tablespoons ice water, more as needed

maple bacon pecan filling (heavily adapted from Bon Appetit)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

4 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups pecan halves

1/2 cup bacon, finely chopped

3 tablespoons bourbon

for the crust:

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the bacon grease and incorporate using a pastry cutter or fork (the dough will look like moist sand). Cut in the butter just until it is reduced to small, pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the bourbon and water over the mixture, and stir together just until incorporated. Gently press the crumbly mixture together with a large spoon, rubber spatula or the palm of your hand just until it comes together to form a dough. Mold the dough into a disc roughly 6 inches in diameter. Cover the disc tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a round roughly 13 inches in diameter. Place in a 9-inch baking dish, crimping the edges as desired. Freeze the formed shell for 20 to 30 minutes before filling and baking.

for the filling:

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Stir syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.

Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in 4-cup measuring cup to blend. Gradually whisk maple syrup mixture into egg mixture. Stir in the pecan halves, bacon, and bourbon. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack.

Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Cut pie into wedges and serve.

maple yam-ginger pie

I thought I’d sneak in one more post before Thanksgiving, just in case you still need a recipe. This one goes out to all of my vegan homies. I feel like vegetarians get the short end of the stick on Thanksgiving. So I’m giving back in the form of pie.

The first time I made this pie was last year, a few days before Thanksgiving. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Nothing about it indicates that it’s 100% dairy free. The filling is smooth and silky, with hints of ginger and cinnamon.

Can we just talk about the crust for a minute? Initially, I was skeptical about the crust because it sagged a little while par baking. But all of my doubts vanished after my first bite. This crust is outstanding. It’s crisp and slightly nutty thanks to its coconut oil base and a little bit of whole wheat pastry flour. It is certainly in the running for my favorite pie crust.

If you like ginger like I do, a little candied or crystalized ginger is really nice alongside this pie. Just make sure to leave a little room in your belly. And have yourself a marvelous Thanksgiving.

maple yam-ginger pie

adapted from Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry

makes 1 9-inch pie

for the crust:

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons raw cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

7 tablespoons solidified coconut oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup ice water

for the filling:

2-1/2 pounds garnet yams

2 cups coconut milk

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons agar flakes

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced or 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

candied or crystalized ginger (optional)

for the crust:

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. Add the solid coconut oil to the bowl and rub it into the dry mix with your fingers until it resembles small pebbles.

Add the vinegar to the ice water. Drizzle the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing as you add it.  Stop adding water when the dough holds together when squeezed. Do not add more water than necessary.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape it into a bowl and then flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F. Pierce the yams all over with the tines of a fork. Place the yams on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 45 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator after 45 minutes and allow it to warm to room temperature. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a pie plate. Gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the plate. Trim the edges with a knife. Make a decorative edge by pinching the dough between your index finger and thumb.

Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times. Transfer to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes. If your crust begins to shrink or sag significantly, gently press it back into shape with the back of a wooden spoon. When the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and set aside.

Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat. Do not let boil. Add the agar flakes and the ginger and simmer for 8 minutes, stirring often, until the agar dissolves. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract and simmer for an additional minute. Turn off heat.

Add the yams, agar mixture, cinnamon, nutmeg, arrowroot, and sea salt to a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until cream and smooth.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is firm.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours, or until the pie has firmed up. Serve each slice with some candied ginger.

pumpkin layer cake with caramel cream cheese frosting

It’s really starting to feel like November around here. Just the other day I was musing about how sunny and glorious it was as I crossed the Bay Bridge on my way home from work. And now I’m wearing leg warmers in bed.

November. Goodbye, daylight. Hello, scarves and coats and extra layers. Goodbye, stone fruit and tomatoes. Hey there, pumpkin recipes.

This one caught my attention as I was flipping through the pages of Bon Appetit Desserts, in search of a cake to bake for Rodney’s birthday. It sounded promising – pumpkin and spices and a caramel cream cheese frosting. And it was good. But it needed a little bit of a boost. So I made it a second time and doubled up on the spice and added an extra spoonful of sugar, which seemed to do the trick.

I wish I could tell you that this cake is full of pumpkin flavor. But it’s not. It’s a subtle pumpkin cake, which makes it an excellent platform for this insane caramel cream cheese frosting. And candied orange. Seriously, the caramel cream cheese frosting is a winner on its own; it’s like your favorite cream cheese frosting, but with a deepness and complexity that only caramel can provide. And the candied orange adds a bit of brightness and texture that really ties it all together. Something about this cake just screams autumn. It’s here. Get used to it.

pumpkin layer cake with caramel cream cheese frosting

adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts by Barbara Fairchild

serves 8-10

for the frosting:

4 cups powdered sugar, divided

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

for the cake:

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1-1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

for the garnish:

candied orange peel*

*Candied orange peel is available seasonally at most grocery stores or year round at specialty shops. Or you can make it yourself. (I’ll post a recipe soon. Promise!)

For the frosting:

Sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar over bottom of small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts (do not stir). Continue cooking until sugar turns deep amber, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Strain into small bowl. Cool caramel to room temperature.

Sift remaining powdered sugar into medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in cooled caramel. Cover and chill frosting until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides, tapping out any excess flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate between additions. Mix in orange peel. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Divide batter between the prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 33 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto rack, then turn top side up and cool completely.

Using long serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over the bottom layer. Place second cake layer, cut side down, atop frosting. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating a smooth surface.

Sprinkle candied orange peel over top of cake. Cut into wedges and serve.

If you plan to make the cake in advance, cover with cake dome or large bowl and chill. Let stand at cool room temperature for 2 hours before serving. Can be made up to two days in advance.