It’s day 6 of our 25 Days of December writing challenge here on the blog and today’s prompt is all about sharing out a favorite holiday recipe. This year being pregnant I’m always on the hunt for finding ways to make holiday cooking and baking a more healthy indulgence.
Around the holidays (or really any time of year) I love a good slice of pecan pie. The richness paired with the toasted pecan flavor is always a personal favorite – so, I set out to make my very own. However, I was slightly surprised to see that it’s traditionally made with corn syrup.
Why is corn syrup so important in pecan pie? Well, it’s what binds all of the ingredients together and gives that perfect set slice every time. It’s important to note that corn syrup is not the same as high-fructose corn syrup, but can be easily swapped if you’re looking to lower the sugar content in your bakes or find more natural sugars to replace it with.
What exactly is corn syrup?
It’s an invert sugar, which means that it prevents sugar crystals from forming, This is important when making things like caramel or another candy because you want a smooth final product rather than something that is crystalized, lumpy, and grainy. When it’s not used to prevent crystallization, it’s used to simply give shine and body to something, like a chocolate sauce or pie.Epicurious
After having the inspiration to bake pecan pie without the use of corn syrup, I set out to find the perfect recipe. I ended up combining a few elements from a couple different recipes stemming from Gimme Some Oven and Sally’s Baking Addiction. They each have great starting places and make it easy to swap out things here and there to fit dietary needs or preferences.
Brown Rice Syrup
I’ve only recently discovered brown rice syrup and love how similar it is to honey, but yet has a dark nutty flavor like caramel or brown sugar. Instead of corn, this syrup is made from breaking down the starches in brown rice.
Assembling your pie
Once all of your ingredients are well whisked, you simply pour the mixture over the pecans in your pie shell. You can choose to chop your pecans, leave them halved, or arrange them in concentric circles if you wish.
Afterwards, you bake for 40-50 minutes and monitor for doneness. The middle should puff up, but don’t worry…it’ll sink when cooled. If the outer crust begins to brown too quickly, use a sheet of foil to cover and keep from over-baking while the filling continues to cook.
My first tester bake:
After testing this new recipe I discovered a few tips that helped me master my second bake:
- If using frozen pre-made crust, don’t blind bake it. It caused my crust to cook faster than the pecan pie filling.
- I recommend using less of maple syrup than that of the brown rice syrup as to not overpower the flavor. Play with it until it reaches your desired taste!
- Be prepared for a gooey center – even though it’s cooked through. Because we’re not using corn syrup the pie wont set like the traditional pie.
- Should you ever notice your pie is starting to brown too quickly on top, place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top to keep it from baking too quickly
My second bake:
For my second bake I made some course corrections outlined above. I decided to not pre-bake my shell and opted to fill it then bake it altogether. It ended up baking all at the same time and came out perfect. I also chopped the pecans in the filling and as a finishing touch, arranged whole pecans in a concentric circle. It’s a little time consuming, but makes for a great presentation. I also altered the ratio of maple syrup and brown rice syrup since maple can be such a powerful flavor. Overall, I really liked this version of pecan pie and it paired very well with some homemade whipped cream!
What are your cooking or baking up this holiday?
December Writing Challenge
To join in on this writing challenge, pick up the prompts here and join in the conversation over on the socials at Facebook and Instagram! Everyday for 25 days you’ll share out a post that follows along with the prompts below as a means to grow your blog and connect with others during a, what can be described as hectic, holiday season!