I was sure I wanted to make a pie to bring to our 2nd annual Thanksgiving with friends. And when the bf said he had a certain fondness for pecan pie, the hunt was on for the best recipe.
The "perfect" recipe
My culinary practice is hampered--not at all enhanced!-- by my never-ending quest for the "perfect" (i.e. best-tasting, most-like-what-I-imagined, requires-no-special-trip-to-the-grocery-store, has-THIS-ingredient, etc.) recipe on any given occasion. This week I was seeking a pecan pie recipe without corn syrup. For one, pecan pie is hands-down always too sweet. Secondly, I eat enough corn products as it is--tortilla chips have become a staple post-work appetizer around these parts recently. Thirdly, how were ye olde Southerners making pecan pies before corn syrup existed? I rest my case.
America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated/Cook's Country
This conglomerate of busy cooking bees have captured my heart recently. Nope, don't get the magazine, but I read it when I find it on my mom's or friend's coffee table. I would be recording it on the DVR, if it weren't for the fact that I seem to have a sixth sense about when America's Test Kitchen is airing on public television.
I love watching those foodie nerds explain that cooking your chicken breast-side down at 405 degrees will garner the moistest meat or why adding baking soda to your paprikosh is essential to reducing the acidity...blah, blah,--but I love it! Sure, some recipes are waaaaay too complicated, but it sure is fun watching them do the work in their imaginary world of television, where 15 minutes of constant stirring over low heat is condensed into 10 seconds of nerdy banter between the research-obsessed chef and this guy:
My mom was dispatched to search for a recipe sans-corn syrup, and her search brought up many good options, but my heart was set on the "old-fashioned pecan pie" or "perfect pecan pie" from the various Cook's Illustrated websites. These sites are, to my respectful dismay, pay for content. A few months ago I had signed up for a free 14-day trial, which had expired, and my mom had done the same trying to locate my perfect recipe, but when we logged in with her credentials, I discovered that the Cook's Illustrated "perfect pecan pie" used corn syrup and the "old-fashioned pecan pie" was only available through America's Test Kitchen website. A quick sign-up for a free trial, and I had finally unlocked the recipe of my dreams: egg yolks, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, heavy cream, butter. The result: an almost custard-like filling, still super sweet, but with a distinctly maple flavor. I might reduce the maple or brown sugar next time, but that's just the perfectionism talking.