Sunday, January 9, 2011

What's unique in my pecan pie?…Honey!!!

This is the best pecan pie I think I have ever made, and I have made a lot of pecan pies.

Generally a pecan pie calls for corn syrup, but I choose to make this pie with raw honey instead. Why did I choose raw honey as my substitute? Because I have started a small love affair with raw honey this summer while working at the farmer’s market, and I am trying to sneak it into as many recipes as possible! Raw honey is delicately sweet and luscious and has a uniquely velvety texture.

When using honey, it is important to me to use raw, local honey for a couple of reasons. Using local honey supports the local farmers which is super important. Raw honey means the honey in the jar is as close to the honey in the hive as you can get. This process varies from bee-keeper to bee-keeper, but generally it is removed from the hive and simply strained, or spun, to remove any natural impurities that may be in the honey. Generic honey purchased in the supermarket is usually processed with heat, is clarified, and may have unwanted things added to it creating a less tasty and less nutritious product. Have a taste test with store-bought, processed honey vs. raw honey and you won’t believe the difference in texture and flavor!! There is nothing like a spoonful of creamy, delicate, fresh honey!!

Honey Pecan Pie

• 1 cup honey
• 3 eggs, beaten (in a large bowl)
• 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
• 1 9-inch pie crust (I like the deep dish, it make me very happy!!)

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the honey to a gentle boil then remove from heat
2. With a ladle, carefully whisk a ladleful of the honey into the beaten eggs. Continue gently whisking the eggs while adding one ladleful of the honey at a time until the honey and eggs are combined.
3. Add the butter and stir until it is melted
4. Add the vanilla, nuts, and nutmeg and combine
5. Pour into the pie shell.
6. Bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until set

Alternatives, ideas and suggestions:
• Adding the honey to the eggs slowly and carefully is called tempering. It is important to perform this process or you will have scrambled eggs instead of a well blended product.
• I know I have told you this before, but before you make this pie, I think it is important to toast the pecans before baking with them. Actually any time you are using almonds, pecans or hazelnuts, toasting them is a wonderful thing to do because it really intensifies the natural flavor of the nuts. It also gives them a more palatable crunch. Bake them at 325 for 10-20 minutes depending on the nut. After around 5-10 minutes, give them a toss in the pan for even toasting.
• If you don’t want to use honey, feel free to use fresh maple syrup…is it super delicious and isn’t nearly as sweet as you’d think it is. Again, you must use real maple syrup and not the cheap kind. Why? Because the cheap kind is actually corn syrup with artificial maple flavoring!! Blech, no thank you!! Go for the good stuff, it is totally worth it!
• Want to sweeten the pot a little? Add ½ cup of chocolate chips in with the pecans…the angels will sing when your knife goes in for the first cut of pie.
• Feel free to top the pie with pecan halves before baking. This will make a nice presentation.
• Over time, raw honey will crystallize but don’t panic, it is OK and is a natural thing. The crystals are safe to consume as they are or you can gently warm your honey to dissolve the crystals. To warm the honey, submerge the honey jar in warm water no higher than 110 degrees. Heating the honey too high will diminish its nutritional value.

Did you know…
…Raw honey has antibacterial properties that help treat infections and heal wounds?
…Raw honey can hasten the healing process by encouraging circulation?
…Raw honey has an anti-inflammatory property that may reduce pain?
…Raw honey contains polyphenols which act as antioxidants?
…Raw honey contains vitamins and minerals and offers a trace amount of amino acids and proteins?

Now go play with your food!!

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