Pecan pie is right up there with pumpkin pie when it comes to iconic holiday desserts, but it has the potential to be overly sweet and gloopy. Melissa Clark’s pecan pie recipe with maple syrup and star anise avoids those issues—and corn syrup too.
Instead of the traditional Karo syrup, she cooks down maple syrup on the stove with star anise for a thick, spicy-sweet reduction that joins eggs, butter, a bit of rum, and the all-important pecans in a tender, flaky crust. This is sure to be the rightful center of attention on any Thanksgiving table.
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The recipe comes from Clark's 2011 cookbook.
And don’t fear homemade pie dough; see how to make it in the food processor (and learn the proper way to pronounce pecan!) in the video below, then scroll down to get the recipe.
The Game Changer: Infused Maple Syrup
Infused maple syrup is a wonderful thing (for pancakes, drinks, fried chicken, and more), and it’s easy to make. For this pie, star anise is the flavor agent and Demarara sugar is added too. The syrup is simmered longer than usual to reduce it and make it thicker. That will help it give the proper ooey-gooey body to the filling when whisked with eggs and butter—plus a couple tablespoons of rum if you please.
Feel free to try other spices—Clark herself advocates for switching things up every year. Cinnamon is an obvious choice, as are cloves, or you can do a mix of all of the above. Boris Portnoy’s Pumpkin Pie recipe is full of those and other spices like cardamom and Sichuan peppercorns, so check it out for inspiration and experiment. Just use whole spices in the syrup, not ground.
The Other Must: Toast Your Nuts
Toasting your pecans before folding them into the pie filling ensures a crunchier, more deeply flavored pie. Just take care not to burn them. Stir every so often so they toast evenly, and trust your nose; as soon as they start to smell nutty, they can come out of the oven.
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Use to toast your nuts, and make pulling your pie pan out of the oven easier too.
Top It Off: Whipped Crème Fraîche
Whipped cream is never unwelcome when it comes to pie, but whipped crème fraîche is a nice upgrade that brings a sophisticated tang and a silkier texture. Add a bit of sugar and vanilla (as you would when whipping cream) to sweeten it slightly, but use a light hand, as the pie is already quite sweet, which is what makes the tanginess of the unconventional topping so good with it. Whip the crème fraîche in a stand mixer or with a handheld beater until peaks form.
Related Reading: The Best Way to Store Pie
Get Melissa Clark’s Anise-Infused Maple Syrup Pecan Pie Recipe
Click the link below to get the recipe, including a printable version.
The original version of this post was by Meredith Smith and Blake Arthur.