Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pecan Pie with Cranberries and Bourbon, and a Bonus: Ben's Gingerbread Hall of Fame

For this week's article, it is with great pleasure I bring to you not one, but two holiday treats as we welcome our first Christmas together, dear readers: Pecan Pie with Cranberries and Bourbon, and this year’s inductees into Ben’s Gingerbread Hall of Fame.

Pecan Pie with Cranberries and Bourbon
For many people, few things say holiday season like a fresh Pecan Pie. The problem is that often, when we say Pecan Pie, we end up meaning Pecan-Flavored-Sugar-and-Syrup-Pie.
To keep the pie’s traditional deep flavor while making the sweetness a bit less overpowering, today's recipe introduces fresh cranberries and orange zest into the mix, uses less corn syrup than many other recipes, adds some half-and-half to give the filling a smooth, praline-like quality, as well as just a bit of bourbon. I’ve also used my reduced-fat pie crust, egg substitute and butter substitute which, for Pecan Pie, I admit seems at first to be a bit like the old joke about someone ordering a double hot fudge sundae without the cherry because he’s on a diet. It still reduces the fat content, though.

Here’s how to make this delicious and somewhat different Pecan Pie:

In a mixing bowl, blend 1 cup packed brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of melted butter substitute and ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt. Once that’s mixed well, add 3 egg substitute eggs and mix till they absorbed. Then add 6 fluid ounces of light corn syrup, 1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, ½ cup of fat-free half-and-half, and 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Whisk into a smooth, thick liquid.

Blind bake a 9” pie shell and, when firm, apply an egg glaze. Line the inside of the pie shell with 1-1/4 cup pecan halves, the zest of one orange, and ½ cup of halved fresh cranberries. Then fill the shell with the liquid mixture.

Bake the pie at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the filling is set and jiggles similar to jello, about another 30 minutes. (Note that when the pie is baking, the filling will puff up higher than crust. Don’t worry; it will settle when the pie cools.) The filling will get firmer when the pie cools.

The Gingerbread Hall of Fame
Every year – well, every year that I feel like it – part of making gingerbread cookies is inducting a few deserving people into my Gingerbread Hall of Fame. Its purpose it to pay homage to those who, either in the past year or more generally, have achieved legendary status, and then bite their heads, arms, and legs off. Before we get to the 2010 inductees, please welcome these previous recipients of this great honor:

The "Great Artists" series (from left to right: Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Toulouse Lautrec):

You’ve Got Mail:

CSI North Pole:

For people with a good memory for 2008 magazine covers, Jennifer Aniston:

For people with even better memories of 2008 football heroes who turn out to be complete knuckleheads, Plaxico Burress:

Rod Blagojevich

And now, without further ado, please welcome the Gingerbread Hall of Fame, Class of 2010:

From left to right: Lady Gaga…Justin Bieber…and The Old Spice Guy!

Wishing everyone a holiday filled with smiles and sweet stuff!

See you in 2011! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember – especially this Friday night - to kiss the cook.


  1. Ben, the pie sounds and looks fabulous. And I adore those gingerbread men, they are so cute!
    Have a wonderful holiday season!

  2. To you also, Martha! I look forward to seeing pictures of the beautiful things you do with Christmas.

    And Merry Christmas to you, Angie, my friend. Glad you like the cookies! Some of the topical references are a little dated - does anyone really remember the Jennifer Aniston cover anymore? - but I like to think of them as kind of a snapshot in time.

  3. You are funny! I definitely want to bite off Justin Bieber's head! Too bad you aren't coming to my house for could bring dessert!

    Happy Xmas to my bloggie friend!


  4. Dinner sounds delightful, Sandra. :-) I was actually in Toronto several years ago visiting family, and remember being greatly impressed with how exquisitely beautiful and clean such a large city is kept. And I am glad you like the cookies!

  5. Mmm . . . the Old Spice guy. I could eat him right up.

  6. Thanks, Merut...I think he's actually still hanging around here.

  7. I love your gingerbread !!! HAHA My daughter would ruin Justin... hahahaha I am following you now.

  8. Welcome, Kim! It's great to see you here. I'm glad you like the cookies; their whole purpose for "living" is to be ruined. :-) I liked your blog as well, and am now one of your legion of followers.