It seems so obvious but these two are a natural match. During the holidays, dates are added to breads and other confections for sweetness but the pecan pie is really the best use of my date. The prospect of complementing a roasted salty pecan with this fruit got me excited from the start. In a pecan pie I want richness, balance of flavor, creamy crunchy texture, and a buttery crust. The trick is doing it all without hitting a oversugared level of super sweetness. The dates in this recipe get us there and in my opinion with a little more character than the traditional pecan pie recipe, of which I am an enthusiast. I add flake salt to the finished top layer after glazing with maple syrup to create the final note, the one that gives balance and complements the natural caramel sweetness of the date filling.
This Thanksgiving or when your party guests are looking for a dessert, this pie will not disappoint. It has a rich creamy body with the caramel notes from dates and a flaky crunchy crust and just the right amount of pecaniness. Whip some cream as a topping or pair with good vanilla bean ice cream for a cooling contrast perhaps with just a dash of cinnamon. THe adult version can include a shot of bourbon or orange liquor into the whipped cream for a little holiday spark.
I am certain that the pie lovers in your life will be enthralled and not much will remain so get your slice set aside early, or take the other route and simply prepare to make a second one for yourself.
Ian and Mariana
Salted Date and Pecan Pie
Makes a 12″ Pie
For the Crust:
2 1/4 cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
2 sticks butter, like, organic cultured butter from Organic Valley, Kerrygold Irish butter, Plugra. Get the best quality you can find, it’s the holidays splurge, it will really make the difference.
2 good pinches sea salt
1/2-3/4 cup ice-cold water
1 egg to egg wash the pie crust.
For the filling:
12 oz Medjool Dates pitted
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup grade A Maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons Nielsen Massey vanilla extract or one vanilla bean
1 cup toasted pecans roughly chopped
About 75 RAW Pecan Halves,choose the prettiest ones, to decorate the top.(about 1 -1/4 cups)
2 tablespoons Maple syrup to brush the top once the pie is baked, and some flaky sea salt to sprinkle.
1. Start by making the pie crust. Check this link for instructions.
2. Roll up your pie crust making a circular dough about 18″ in diameter and about a little less than a 1/4″ inch thick. Place the pie dish above your crust to make sure you have enough extra dough on the sides to create a nice thick border. you must have about 2 1/2 inches extra all around the pie circle. Fold crust into fourths for easy transfer to a glass pie dish.
3. Unfold the crust and gently press the sides of the pie crust into the bottom of the pie dish for a better fit. THis is very important step to ensure you don’t have any gaps or air pockets between the bottom and the sides of the pie crust. It also will ensure you no side shrinkage.
4. With some scissors trim the un even part of the hanging crust, remember ing you need to have at least 2 inches hanging from the lip of the pie, to create a nice thick pie border.
5. Roll inward the edges of the pie dough to create a cord all around the border of your pie.
6. Using 2 of your knuckles in one hand wide open and one folded knuckle on the other hand lightly press the edge of the pie crust cord to create the wavy edge.press with your thumb in the middle of each curve to ensure the edge of the crust is on top of the pie dish edge. See photo below.
7. Dock your pie crust bottom with a fork. Refrigerate pie crust for 15 minutes. While pre-heating the oven at 375F
8. Place some wrinkled parchment paper and some pie weights over the pie dough crust and blind bake the crust for 20-25 minutes.
9. Meantime make the pie filling. On a small pot bring water, salt and dates to a boil. Turn off and set aside, let the dates get soft about 5 minutes. Once dates are soft, add the baking soda and with an immersion blender purée. Transfer this thick pure into a bowl, add the Maple syrup, butter, vanilla and stir until well combined. Check the temperature of the filling it should be warm to the touch but not hot,then proceed and whisk into the mixture one egg at the time. Last add the chopped toasted pecans. Set filling aside.
10. After 25 minutes, check the pie crust. the crust should have some light yellow color, and edges should barely show a few spots of golden brown. Remove from oven and promptly apply egg wash, all over the bottom of the crust, sides and edges. Add the date-pecan filling while crust and filling still slightly warm.
11. Carefully decorate the top of the pie with the pecans halves. You can crete your own design.For this one, I started form the outside edge working all around and then placing pecan halves towards the center.
12. I used my handy dandy pie edge protector like this one, but you can use some aluminum foil to cover the edges of the pie to avoid extra browning and get overly baked.
13. Carefully place the pie into a baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes at 350F.
14. Check pie at 30 minutes, center should have puffed up and it will fill soft and tender to the touch but not wet. Get it out of the oven and place it on a rack onto of the stop to cool down. Once its cool brush some maple syrup on the top to give some shine and glaze to the pecans, and sprinkle some flaky salt.
Cracks on top of the pie are ok, don’t get upset if your pie shows a crack, usually they vanish once the pie its out of the oven, cools off and settle a bit. If not.. there is nothing that whipped cream or ice cream can cover up. No worries be happy!, after all you are making a scratch made pie, feel proud of yourself, every body will appreciate!
This kind of pie is best the day after baked. So yes, you can make it ahead of time, tonight or tomorrow, or early in the morning on thanksgiving day and by dinner time it should be settled and very easy to slice and serve.
Keep pie at room temperature,serve with any delicious classic vanilla bean ice cream, A dash of cinnamon. Whipped cream with some orange or coffee liquor added when whipping the cream will add a great hump.