Caramel Custard Pecan Pie–No Corn Syrup

Okay, I know pi(e) day already passed. In my defense, this pie was done on that day. Instagram has proof. Anyway, I just want to talk about life a little bit.

I’m sitting here on my couch that Myles and I bought from a local Facebook yardsale page. It’s oldish, green, and it sucks you in. You cannot “sit down for a second” on this couch. It pulls you down and buries you in its fluffiness. It’s extremely comfortable, and I love it. It, however, is not a pretty couch and it’s not the couch that I intended for us. I wanted something sleeker, with harder lines, and definitely something much less green. When we first moved in and were couch-searching, I’d found a number of small couches and love seats in our price range that fit my criteria, but Myles said “No.”

He wanted something he could lay down on. He wanted something comfortable.

I was almost upset that he didn’t like the couch choices I picked out, because I’d been SO lucky to find couches like that in our price range. If I just spent a tiny bit more on the couch, and a little extra on a nice rug, and then bit more on some this-and-that decorations and paint, we could have a Pinterest-worthy home, right now.  And then I realized it was silly.

This apartment has yellow walls (something I’ll get into later… “the parable of the yellow walls”, the blog post has been swimming in my mind for some time.), we’re on a budget, and we’re only going to be here for a short period of time. Why do I need to bring this temporary space up to [my, vague, undefined]  par right now?  I don’t. I don’t need to make it up to par right now. And that goes for everything, including this blog and probably also myself as a human being.

Oh man, this is getting deeper than intended. But hey, we all need a reminder that we’re doing okay once in a while, right?

I started this blog because A) I love food so much it hurts, and B) I’m beyond inspired by the many food bloggers and photographers whose work I follow on a daily basis. I look at those blogs all the time and think about how much work I have to do to be like them. I think about how ridiculously far I am from their level. But most of them are working in a studio kitchen, have been photographers for years, are older and more experienced, have super fancy and expensive cameras, own hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of gorgeous kitchen supplies and props that they’ve been collecting for years, and it’s their full-time job that they make money doing.

I picked up my first real camera a few months ago. My little kitchen is filled only with what I brought in a check-in bag, and wedding gifts from family. And I definitely don’t make money doing this blog (but to be fair, I haven’t really tried). Anyway, my point is, we can’t compare ourselves. I’m writing this to tell myself I’m doing just fine, and I’m writing this to tell you that you are also doing just fine…with whatever it is you do. You’re amazing, just keep going, being you, and trying hard. It’s all you can do!

Anyway, now that we’ve all had a nice pep-talk, about this pie. I’m not going to label it as healthy, because it definitely has a whole can of sweetened condensed milk in it, but I will say it has less sugar than most classic pecan pies, and uses no corn syrup. I’ve always been averse to the extreme sweetness of pecan pie, so this one isn’t quite so sweet, and it uses more eggs which yields a more custard-like texture. If you’re like me, than this might just be the pecan pie for you. You’re welcome.


For the Pastry:

1/2 c. (one stick) cold butter
1 c. + 3 T all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
5-6 T cold water

For the Filling:

2.5 c. pecans
3 eggs + 2 yolks (optional, adds creaminess)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. raw sugar
1/4 c. honey
2 T butter
pinch salt
splash of vanilla

To make pastry shell, whisk dry ingredients in medium sized bowl. Roughly cut cold butter into small cubes and blend into dry ingredients with pastry blender (or two knives) until you achieve a fine, crumbly texture. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time, gently mixing with your fingers until the mixture can be formed into a ball (the amount of water needed can greatly depend on your humidity, so add it slowly, mixing to evenly distribute moister with each addition). The less you work the crust, the better. Form the mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the crust chills, make your filling. In a small saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and honey. Gently heat the mixture on medium-low heat, just until it lightly simmers, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture darkens to a golden caramel color. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. While you do this, roughly chop 1.5 cups of the pecans, reserving a cup to arrange on the top. In a medium size bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks with an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer on medium speed. Slowly pour in the caramel mixture (adding too much at once while it’s hot can cook the eggs and make them chunky–gross). Once all caramel is added, continue beating for another minutes or two until you achieve a smooth, creamy “custard.” Add vanilla, salt, and chopped pecans. Stir to distribute.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

When pastry is chilled, remove it from plastic and roll out to about 2 inches wider than your pie pan (or 2.5 if you’re using a deep pan). Place rolled pastry into your dish, “fitting” it to the bottom, and create whatever decorative edges you desire. Pour filling into raw pastry and  arrange pecans on top (or just sprinkle them on there, it’ll still taste good). Sprinkle with extra raw sugar if desired. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the filling doesn’t jiggle when you move the pan. Check pie halfway through baking and create a foil “tent” if crust is browning too quickly.

Cool 30 minutes before serving, and enjoy this [slightly] less guilty version of a classic!

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