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Perfected Pecan Pie (Still Gluten-Free, Double the Espresso)


A couple of weekends ago, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf made a {Gluten-Free} Brown Butter-Espresso Pecan Pie for a birthday dinner party. I asked him to reprise the dessert for our Thanksgiving feast. He promptly agreed, but said, "I have to make a change, though, to make it perfect." Okay. His change: the Precise Kitchen Elf said it needed more coffee flavor, so D doubled the espresso powder. Wow.

Ingredients  makes one 9" pie

Crust
  • 1-1/4 C gluten-free flour
  • 1-1/2 t organic granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla salt
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick), cubed
  • cold water

Filling
  • 8 ounces raw pecan halves
  • 8 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3 T brewed espresso
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick)
  • 1 C packed organic light brown sugar
  • 7/8 C bourbon maple syrup
  • 1 T instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/2 t vanilla salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • whipped cream or ice cream for serving (for our Thanksgiving feast, we picked two flavors from a new artisanal ice cream shop downtown: sweet potato and kelp-caramel)

Procedure

Crust
In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until chunks the size of small peas form. Pour in 1/4 cup of cold water and pulse, again, till the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and knead 2 to 3 times. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, approximately 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.


We only have one rolling pin, so I used a wine bottle for my crust! "C'mon, Mom, hurry up," he urged.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or - we used - whole nuts in their shell. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove the paper and weights. Return to the oven and bake until the bottom is lightly browned, approximately another 10 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and make the filling.

In a small pan, cook the chopped dates in the brewed espresso until softened to a paste, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. 

In a dry skillet, cook the pecans over medium heat until they are fragrant and toasted, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the toasted nuts into a bowl and let cool. Wipe out the skillet and use it for the next step, too.


Add the butter to the pan and cook over medium heat, swirling, until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.


In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, instant coffee powder, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, then slowly whisk in the brown butter until the filling is smooth. 


Spread the espresso-date mixture over the bottom of the parbaked crust.


Scatter the pecans on top of the espresso-date mixture, filling up the crust as much as possible.

Pour the filling over the pecans. Place in the oven and bake for 70 to 75 minutes - until the filling is set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center. 


Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely.


To serve, slice and place on individual plates with a scoop of whipped cream or ice cream. "Now's it's perfect," he declared.

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