Christmas Eve Pies

In my kitchen, we have been baking all afternoon, and how the house smells of sweetness and warmth with a hint of Christmas.  And of course, wonderful Christmas music wafts through those delicious smells, the mixture creates a “warmth” around the entire house. The fire place embers still twinkle orange  like starlight on a black and grey clouded sky from this mornings fire, which took the chill from downstairs.

With the holidays moving so quickly and zero hour (Christmas Eve) upon us, I knew I needed to sit down and slow my busy pace for a few moments. As the golden sun fall below the ghostly tree line and evening sets in I pluck my pecan pie from the oven, the deliciously sweet and warn caramel fumes fill my kitchen.

For the pie, I made a simple shortening crust, mixing flour shortening, I use butter flavored, and just a splash or 2 of cold water to soften and form it.  I split that in two halves, wrapped it in cellophane and let it rest in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes.  Meanwhile I mixed the sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter and eggs. Blend this well.   Prepare your pie crust in desired dish.  cover the bottom of the pie crust with chopped pecans, about 1 heaping cup, then pour your custard mixture over them evenly.  Cover this ever so lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

With Christmas moving as if Santa’s reindeer themselves were pulling through the sky I did not have the opportunity to take amazing photos of the “oh so delicious pies”.  I have however, managed to capture a tiny sliver of the aftermath and I submit them for your tantalizing enjoyment.

The crumbly goodness of my Souther pecan pie using chopped pecans was well received.  The pie formed a crisp, crunchy, nutty shell topping as it baked while the crust became flakey and buttery .

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Simple pie crust:

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour

3/4 cup shortening (I used butter flavored)

1/2 cup cold water (more or less)

Directions:

In a large bowl cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender until it forms small pea like beads.

Here I transferred the mixture to my kitchenaid mixer, using the dough hook I slowly added cold water by the tablespoon until a soft smooth dough formed.  If dough becomes sticky add a sprinkle of flour to bring it back to a soft dough.

Divide in half, form a disc, wrap in cellophane and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out to pie plate size and lay in greased, floured pie plate.  Fold edges as desired.

Southern Pecan Pie

Prepared crust

Southern Pecan Pie filling:

1 cup of sugar

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup of corn syrup

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup melted salted butter

3 large eggs well beaten

1 cup (heaping) chopped pecans

Directions:

Whisk together the sugars, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter and eggs. Blend this well, you should see it cream together into custard type filling.  Prepare your pie crust in desired dish.  cover the bottom of the pie crust with chopped pecans, about 1 heaping cup, then pour your custard mixture over them.  Cover this ever so lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

My oldest son loves to bake and cook but mostly experiment in the kitchen.  This is his second attempt at the ole Southern staple chess pie.  The first he did on Thanksgiving 2014, the Thanksgiving of the smoked turkey, it has come to be known.  Although that year his chess pie tasted absolutely to die for there were some discrepancies in the crust and topping.  This years chess pie was a home run, he hit it out of the park and this recipe will be going into the family cook book for generations to come.

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We used the other half of the pie crust recipe above for this pie.

Southern Chess Pie

Prepared crust

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp corn meal

1 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1/2 tsp vanilla

4 large eggs lightly beaten

Directions:

You must bake the pie crust slightly before adding the filling.  Line your crust with aluminum foil and add pie weights or beans.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, blend together all ingredients starting with sugar and ending with beaten eggs.  Mix this well until a smooth silky consistency is reached.

Layer the bottom of your crust with copped pecans evenly, these will rise to the top as the pie bakes created a magnificently crisp topping.

Pour mixture into pie crust, cover slightly with aluminum foil or a pie crust ring and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

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