Mini Pecan Pies

Mini Pecan Pies

I've eaten a lot of pecan pie in my life.  You just can't grow up in the South without being a connoisseur of the all-powerful pecan pie.  My grandmother, Olga Mae, made some truly tasty pies, and my pie is pretty darn close to perfect.  But, full disclosure, I've made a few bad pies in my life.  I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten the egg and ended up serving pecan pie soup.  Don't do that.

Once I got that out of my system and worked out the perfect pecan pie filling, the only barrier between me and the pecan pie of my dreams was the perfect pie crust.  I've rolled them too thin, too thick, or just right but somehow still with a soggy bottom 😳.  Then, one fateful day, I came across Gesine Bullock-Prado's recipe for pie crust, and my crust has been perfect as pie (literally) ever since.  So, we'll be combining her crust with my filling for a perfect tiny pie party!

This makes 4 small 6 inch pies.  The recipe can easily be tripled to make a standard 9 inch pie.  That would be delicious!  I just like tiny food and there are only 3 of us.  If I made a full sized pie, we would eat the whole pie.  Not today, thank you.

Category,

Pie Crust (Makes enough for 2 single crust pies. Save one in the freezer for later!)
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 tsp salt (I like to use fine ground sea salt in baking recipes. Its small grain mixes well with all the other ingredients)
 1 tbsp granulated sugar
 1 cup frozen unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces, about 1/4 inch cubes
 About 1/2 cup ice water
 1 tsp lemon juice (this is alleged to "tenderize" the gluten in the dough, making it easier to roll out and giving a more tender crust. I don't know about all that, but if it's good enough for Gesine, it's good enough for me)
Pecan Pie Filling
 ¼ cup dark brown sugar (if you only have light brown sugar, that's absolutely fine. I like the richer, deeper flavor and color you get from the more molasses rich dark brown version, but I'm not married to it)
  cup dark corn syrup (same as above: light or dark, whatever you have)
 1 ½ tbsp melted unsalted butter
 1 large egg, beaten
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 ½ cup finely chopped pecans
 ½ cup pecan halves (we're going NUTS!)
Equipment Needed
 4 - 4 inch mini pie plates. I got mine at a discount store and bought them just because I like tiny food. Really. That's why.

1

In the bowl of your food processor , pulse together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and frozen), 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal-like crumbs.

Note: I like to make pies, so I always keep some butter in the door of my freezer for just such an occasion. I use a knife or a bench scraper to just hack it into bits.

coarse crumb pie dough

2

Whisk together your ice water and lemon juice and slowly drizzle into the opening of your food processor, pulsing until the dough just barely comes together. It won't even look like a lump of dough, just crumbs that wanna hang out together. You may not need to use all of the water/lemon juice mixture, so just stop the food processor and pinch some of the dough together in your fingers to check it. If it clings together, it's done.

testing pie dough

3

Dump all the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and use the plastic wrap to gather all of the crumbly bits together. Bring your hands together and form a ball under the plastic wrap. This will make it easy to see exactly how much dough you have.

Don't I look like I'm really manhandling it? It's not hard to gather your dough, I just like to have an excuse to look impressively strong.

mashing pie dough

4

Divide the dough into two even balls and wrap separately. Place one in the freezer to use later, and place the other in the refrigerator to rest. After about 20 minutes, all the glutens will relax (you just got them all shook up with your muscliness), the moisture will have a chance to penetrate all the flour, and the butter will re-harden. All things key to a flaky, tender crust.

Now, onto the easy part. Let's make pie filling!

pie dough

5

This is going to be fast and furious, so try to keep up. Set aside half the pecan pieces, and put all the rest of the filling ingredients into a bowl and stir. Done. Good job.

Preheat your oven to 350° and let's get started on making pies!

6

Once your filling is prepared, remove your chilled dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured counter. Dust a little more flour on top of the dough and on your rolling pin. Roll out to about 1/4" thickness, and then cut out four 6" circles. This will allow you to drape your crusts into your pie tins with room for it to come up the sides and crimp the edges. You can press the edges of the crust with a fork or use your fingers to make a nice crimp along the edges. Either is fine. It's gonna taste great either way!

mini pie shells

7

Evenly distribute the pie filling among all four crusts. Thusly.

Mini Pecan Pies before baking 2

8

Top, decoratively, with the pecan pieces you set aside earlier in any design your whimsy carries you.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and no longer jiggly. Just wiggle the tray a little. You'll see what I mean!

Mini Pecan Pies before baking

9

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack until just about room temperature. Some people like to serve it with whipped cream or ice cream, so feel free to add those, but sometimes you just need to taste all the purely nutty goodness that is pecan pie! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Mini Pecan Pies 3

Ingredients

Pie Crust (Makes enough for 2 single crust pies. Save one in the freezer for later!)
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 tsp salt (I like to use fine ground sea salt in baking recipes. Its small grain mixes well with all the other ingredients)
 1 tbsp granulated sugar
 1 cup frozen unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces, about 1/4 inch cubes
 About 1/2 cup ice water
 1 tsp lemon juice (this is alleged to "tenderize" the gluten in the dough, making it easier to roll out and giving a more tender crust. I don't know about all that, but if it's good enough for Gesine, it's good enough for me)
Pecan Pie Filling
 ¼ cup dark brown sugar (if you only have light brown sugar, that's absolutely fine. I like the richer, deeper flavor and color you get from the more molasses rich dark brown version, but I'm not married to it)
  cup dark corn syrup (same as above: light or dark, whatever you have)
 1 ½ tbsp melted unsalted butter
 1 large egg, beaten
 ½ tsp vanilla extract
 ½ cup finely chopped pecans
 ½ cup pecan halves (we're going NUTS!)
Equipment Needed
 4 - 4 inch mini pie plates. I got mine at a discount store and bought them just because I like tiny food. Really. That's why.

Directions

1

In the bowl of your food processor , pulse together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup unsalted butter (cut into small pieces and frozen), 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal-like crumbs.

Note: I like to make pies, so I always keep some butter in the door of my freezer for just such an occasion. I use a knife or a bench scraper to just hack it into bits.

coarse crumb pie dough

2

Whisk together your ice water and lemon juice and slowly drizzle into the opening of your food processor, pulsing until the dough just barely comes together. It won't even look like a lump of dough, just crumbs that wanna hang out together. You may not need to use all of the water/lemon juice mixture, so just stop the food processor and pinch some of the dough together in your fingers to check it. If it clings together, it's done.

testing pie dough

3

Dump all the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and use the plastic wrap to gather all of the crumbly bits together. Bring your hands together and form a ball under the plastic wrap. This will make it easy to see exactly how much dough you have.

Don't I look like I'm really manhandling it? It's not hard to gather your dough, I just like to have an excuse to look impressively strong.

mashing pie dough

4

Divide the dough into two even balls and wrap separately. Place one in the freezer to use later, and place the other in the refrigerator to rest. After about 20 minutes, all the glutens will relax (you just got them all shook up with your muscliness), the moisture will have a chance to penetrate all the flour, and the butter will re-harden. All things key to a flaky, tender crust.

Now, onto the easy part. Let's make pie filling!

pie dough

5

This is going to be fast and furious, so try to keep up. Set aside half the pecan pieces, and put all the rest of the filling ingredients into a bowl and stir. Done. Good job.

Preheat your oven to 350° and let's get started on making pies!

6

Once your filling is prepared, remove your chilled dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured counter. Dust a little more flour on top of the dough and on your rolling pin. Roll out to about 1/4" thickness, and then cut out four 6" circles. This will allow you to drape your crusts into your pie tins with room for it to come up the sides and crimp the edges. You can press the edges of the crust with a fork or use your fingers to make a nice crimp along the edges. Either is fine. It's gonna taste great either way!

mini pie shells

7

Evenly distribute the pie filling among all four crusts. Thusly.

Mini Pecan Pies before baking 2

8

Top, decoratively, with the pecan pieces you set aside earlier in any design your whimsy carries you.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set and no longer jiggly. Just wiggle the tray a little. You'll see what I mean!

Mini Pecan Pies before baking

9

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack until just about room temperature. Some people like to serve it with whipped cream or ice cream, so feel free to add those, but sometimes you just need to taste all the purely nutty goodness that is pecan pie! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Mini Pecan Pies 3

Mini Pecan Pies

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