Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dutch Oven Pecan Date Pie

I’ve always loved pecan pie, but I’ve never made it, and I had no idea how. But then, I figured, I’d just do what I always do, that being to look up some recipes and blend the coolest ideas into one.  I also talked with my dear sister, who gave me some really good ideas as well. Her biggest idea was to add the dates. She said that it gives some substance to the custard, even though they essentially dissolve in the cooking process.

She also suggested I try the dark syrup, rather than the light.

Both ideas were spot on, and turned into the best pecan pie I think I have ever eaten.

I also learned from one big mistake: Don’t buy pecans in the shell. I like to cook from scratch as much as possible, and sometimes that leads me to do some pretty stupid things. Like staying up past 12:30 am shelling enough pecans to make a pie the night before. Not only was I exhausted, but my fingers were cramped. Don’t be like me. Buy them shelled. Your hands will thank you.

10” Dutch Oven

8-10 coals below
14-16 coals above


1 1/4 c Shortening
3 c Flour
1 Tbsp Vinegar
5 Tbsp Water
1 egg

1/2 lbs dried beans to weigh down the crust while parbaking


1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest (or about half the orange)
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs
1/2-1 cup pitted and dried dates, coarsely chopped
2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound)

For the process of making the pie crust, I’ll refer you to the previous post, at http://www.marksblackpot.com/2014/12/how-to-make-dutch-oven-pie-crust.html , to follow. I would strongly recommend doing the parbaking. I did it this time, and it made a big difference, because the crust didn’t soak up so much of the liquid of the filling. It was much more flaky.

Then, I melted the butter over the coals left after the parbaking of the crust. I added the brown sugar and I whisked it all together until it was melted and smooth. Then, I took that off the heat and added in the corn syrup, stirring as I went. I then added in the rest of the ingredients, except the eggs, the dates, and the pecan halves.

The filling mixture was still quite hot at this point, so I was nervous about dumping the eggs right in and having them curdle or scramble right away. So, I decided to temper them. I broke them into a separate bowl and whisked them to break them up and blend them smooth. Then, while whisking with one hand, I added tablespoonfuls of the mixture to the eggs with the other. The idea is to bring the temperature of the eggs up gradually, so they don’t cook right away. Finally, tablespoon after tablespoon, it felt like they were warm and I poured the whole thing back into the mix.

Then, I added the dates and the pecans.

Finally, all of that was poured into the crust that was still in the 10” Dutch oven.

I put the lid on, and set it on fresh coals, as indicated above, and baked it for about an hour, or until it was clear that the filling was set to the center.  I let it cool. completely.

This time, I chose to serve it from the Dutch, rather than try to lift it out. The crust, however, was quite durable and probably would have easily survived the lift. The whole pie was incredible, especially with whipped topping! My sister was definitely right about the dates.

More pies to come!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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