It is a holiday revolving around being thankful for what we have, being surrounded by family and close friends, and not a single gift is exchanged(except maybe a hostess gift or two).
I am always so grateful when I am able to spend it back home with my family and this year is one of those special years.
I haven't yet graduated to being the main cook on Thanksgiving (what a scary thought that is!) but I like to contribute something to the table.
As a member of the family who enjoys baking (and there are quite a few of us) I decided to make a dessert and in my eyes there are two main Thanksgiving desserts: Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie.
One of these traditional desserts was already spoken for but no one had baking rights to the Pecan Pie yet, so I was quick to claim it.
I envisioned little individual pecan pies, a muffin-sized pie to be exact (I'm slightly obsessed with muffins) the perfect portion that no one can say no to really.
So I set about finding a recipe that I could mutate. I found a recipe for Mini Pecan Pies on the Myrecipe.com web page which was from Southern Living magazine November 2008.
The recipe used a package of frozen tart shells which I decided could easily be substituted with my clever unbaked pie crust plan.
Long story short, I followed the Southern Living recipe for the pie filling and created my own little plan for the crusts.
My dad supervised as I hesitantly put the muffin pan with the half-baked crusts filled with delicious pecan goo into the oven and 25 minutes later.....voila!
Here is the recipe, which I've slightly adapted, from Southern Living November 2008:
Mini Pecan Pies (adapted from Southern Living NOVEMBER 2008)
- 3 cups chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- two unbaked, ready rolled pie crusts
- some flour for sprinkling on the crusts
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
2. Unroll the crusts. Dust some flour on both sides of each pie crust. Using a wine glass turned upside down as a rough estimate cut rounds out of the crusts. I was able to get 7 or 8 from each crust, although I did get creative and have to mush together the scraps and re-roll them to get the last round.
3. Push the rounds gently into the muffin tin, being careful not to put any holes through the dough as you press them in, the edges may overlap or be somewhat wrinkled as it is pressed into the tin but this is OK. Bake in the oven (without the filling) for roughly 10 minutes at 350ºF just to part bake but keep watch so it doesn't burn.
4. Stir together sugar and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Stir in pecans, eggs, and next 3 ingredients.
5. Spoon roughly a TBSP of pecan mixture into each crust. Ensure there is a good amount of the liquid in each and not just pecans since the liquid is what binds the filling together.
6. Place muffin tin with filled individual crusts into the middle rack of the oven.
7. Bake at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes or until set.
8. Remove to wire racks, and let cool completely (about 30 minutes). Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.