Southern Sweetness: Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

No one would say something is “as American as pecan pie.” But maybe we should; this delectable dessert is rich in flavor and a long-time favorite in the South, where it originated — unlike apple pie, which has been made in Europe for centuries.

Whether it was in Alabama or Louisiana, pecan pie was invented somewhere in the southern United States in the late 1800s or early 1900s, but recipes for pecan pie weren’t featured in popular cookbooks until the 1940s. Today, it’s made in an array of variations — which is fitting, considering the many variations on the pronunciation of “pecan.” In Texas (known as the “Pecan Capital of the World”), Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi, it’s generally “pick-ahn.” Northeastern states and the Carolinas prefer “PEA-can.” Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula say “pee-kahn;” while the rest of the U.S. channels their inner Captain Kirk for “peh-KHAN!” However you say it, there’s no debating its deliciousness.

Taste for yourself; here’s a recipe featuring a Kentucky kick!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons cubed and cold unsalted butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons ice water
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup light molasses
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Crust
1. Combine the salt, sugar and 1 1/4 cups of the flour in a food processor. Pulse a few times.
2. Add the butter and pulse until there are pea-size pieces.
3. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the mixture barely comes together.
4. Dump dough onto parchment paper and press into a disc. Wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Roll out the dough on a lightly-dusted surface so it fits into a 9-inch pie pan with a slight overhang.
6. Place the dough in the pie pan and fold over the overhang to create a nice crust.
7. Pierce the base all over with a fork, line with foil and fill with baking weights (or beans).
8. Bake on the bottom rack for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights.
9. Return the pie crust to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes to ensure the crust will be crisp. Allow to cool, about 30 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 350°.

Filling
1. Beat the brown sugar and eggs in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until fluffy.
2. Add the coconut oil and remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and mix for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the light molasses and bourbon and mix until combined.
4. Finish by stirring in half of the pecans.
5. Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with the dark chocolate pieces and remaining pecans.
6. Gently pour in the pie filling.
7. Bake until the top is firm but the center is slightly gooey, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool before serving. Serve with whipped cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream.

— P.J. Butland