Photos: Wendy Goodfriend, Video: Vic Chin and Peter Ruocco
I’ve been eating pecan pie my entire life. My mother is from Shreveport, Louisiana and although I was raised in Rochester, New York, pecans were shipped to us every holiday season. It was rare, if not impossible, to find pecans in the stores in Rochester at that time. My grandmother shipped whole pecans in the shell to us and I assisted in removing the nuts from the hard shells using old nutcrackers.
My mother made a traditional pecan pie and she didn’t make a crust from scratch. I grew up in the era of newly discovered convenience food and my mother was a working mother so some short cuts were welcomed. Her filling was a typical gooey sweet and heavily nutty one. We almost always ate our slices served warm with vanilla ice cream.
As I grew up and traveled and discovered more food, I was exposed to recipes other than my grandmother’s and mother’s. There’s always a next level to discover and create. I’m an admitted chocoholic so when my friend Eve introduced me to her version with the addition of chocolate, I had to add that and make it my own with a touch of bourbon. The quality of the chocolate is very important to me and I’m partial to the local Bay area company Guittard. Amy Guittard is a colleague and friend and she’s the fifth generation in her family to work at the company. And though I love a good barrel-aged bourbon, the quality of bourbon doesn’t matter as much since most of the alcohol is cooked off. Although, since such a small amount is used, better to buy the good stuff for “leftovers.”
The best part of this recipe is its simplicity. It’s a real dump and stir. Since so much of holiday meal preparation takes a long time, it’s nice to know that dessert, often the most intimidating part of the meal to make, is just minutes away. This combination of chocolate, pecans and bourbon is so flavorful and rich that just a slightly sweetened home whipped cream is the only accompaniment needed to enjoy this divine combination.
Tanya Holland's Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Makes one 9" pie or 8 servings