Jason’s birthday was last week, so I did what I do every year: made him his traditional birthday pecan pie.
Yes, my weirdo of a husband is sort of neutral on birthday cake, but loooooves birthday pie. And not just any pie. It has to be my patented, world-famous, award-winning deep-dish pecan pie. [Okay fine, it is neither patented, nor award-winning, nor all that famous…yet.] This monster is 11” wide, 2” deep, and packed with toasted pecan halves, cinnamon-spiked filling, and lots of pockets of melted semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Not a bad way to celebrate a birthday, right?
This pie has been a big part of his birthday celebration for at least the last 5 years, and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to share the recipe! It’s not all that different from most pecan pie recipes—the big change is the handful of chopped chocolate I added, since I don’t actually like pecan pie that much myself (shhhh don’t tell Jason) and chocolate makes everything more tolerable.
The other big change, of course, is baking it in a giant deep-dish 11” pie pan. (If you’re in the market for one, I bought mine at Smart & Final.) It’s kind of a ridiculous amount of pie, but we usually have friends over to celebrate, and then Jason enjoys eating the leftovers over the next few days. He has also been known to have a slice of birthday pie for breakfast, which I don’t condone but certainly can’t forbid…heaven knows I’ve had a birthday cake breakfast once or twice myself.
This pie is crunchy, gooey, nutty, and chocolatey, with a deep brown sugar flavor and a buttery, flakey crust. I’m not saying you have to make it for your next party or birthday, but I am saying that you won’t be sorry if you do!
- 13.5 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1.75 oz (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 10 oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2.5 oz cold shortening, cubed
- ½ cup ice water
- 17 oz (1½ cups) light corn syrup
- 7½ oz (1 cup) packed brown sugar
- 3 oz melted butter
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp salt
- 14 oz (3 cups) toasted pecan halves
- 6 oz (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor (10 cups or larger size) and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold cubed butter and shortening, and pulse in short bursts until it’s cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture has the texture of coarse crumbs. Add half of the ice water and pulse in 5-second bursts, adding the rest a little more at a time just until the dough starts to come together. You may not need to use all of the water—stop when the dough starts to come together, and don’t overwork it!
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it just enough to incorporate any dry patches of flour. Shape it into a disc, wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate it an hour to let it rest and chill. After an hour, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about ¼-inch thick. Lay it in a deep dish 11” pie pan, and trim the excess from the sides. Prick the bottom of the crust with fork tines, and put the pie in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Once the oven’s ready and the dough is chilled, spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and press it, sprayed side down, on top of the pie dough. Fill the pie shell with beans or rice, then bake it for 20 minutes until the sides of the crust look set and start taking on some color. Carefully remove the foil and beans, then continue to bake the crust for an additional 15 minutes, until it is no longer raw in the center and is starting to color.
- If you’d like, you can roll out the excess dough and cut small shapes out of it—I like using ovals or leaf cutters. Once the crust is baked and cooled, brush the rim with beaten egg, and place the crust cut-outs around the edge. Brush the top of the cut-outs with more beaten egg, and sprinkle it with a little sugar. Fill the crust and bake as described below. This method of decoration takes a little more time, but it looks wonderful and it prevents the edges of the crust from getting overdone since the edges are baked along with the filling and are not pre-baked like the rest of the crust.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn syrup and brown sugar until smooth and free of lumps. Add the melted butter, then the eggs one at a time. Finally, add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk until smooth.
- Put the pecans and chopped chocolate in the cooled pie crust, then pour the filling mixture on top. Tap the pie pan against the counter several times to pop any air bubbles. Place the pie on a baking sheet covered with parchment, to keep your oven from getting messy in the event of any spills.
- Bake the pie at 375 F for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F. Bake for an additional 55-65 minutes, until the pie is puffed, there are a few cracks along the sides, and the center doesn’t jiggle like gelatin when the pie is tapped. If the outer edges of the crust appear to be getting too dark during the cooking process, cover the edges loosely with foil strips.
- Once baked, remove the pie from the oven and cool at room temperature. It’s wonderful—but messy!—when eaten warm, and it’s also delicious at room temperature or even chilled. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, and refrigerate leftovers for up to a week.