Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve ~ Lil' Pie, Anyone?

I'm taking a new approach to Thanksgiving desserts this year.  In addition to the Pumpkin Bread Pudding that I literally start salivating for just imagining it, I am making some little mini pies.  It's always so hard to choose what kind of pie I want.  And you try to get just a small piece of each, but cutting those pecan pies into small pieces is nearly impossible.  And then there's all the cutting and serving which, let's face it, just delays the moment I get to eat my pie.

So here's what I'm making this year:  mini chocolate/pecan pies and mini pumpkin/pecan pies.  I'm also going to make some mini sweet potato pies if I get myself to the store today.  I'm thinking those will freeze beautifully and make a yummy quick snack when the craving hits.

Here's the lil' pie recipes I'm using this year:

Pumpkin Pecan Mini Pies

1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup flour
6 TBSP cold butter
2-3 TBSP ice water

1 egg plus one egg yolk
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
24 pecan halves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray.

For the dough, place pecans and sugar in a food chopper and grind until well-combined and nuts are very fine.  Place in bowl with flour and salt, whisk together.  Add butter and cut in until all crumbs are smaller than pea-size.  Drizzle in ice water, 1 TBSP at a time, and continue cutting just until dough barely starts to hold together.  Now get in there with your hands and form into a ball.  (You can also do all this with a food processor if you'd rather.) 

Divide dough evenly into 24 pieces.  Roll each piece gently into a ball and place in mini-muffin pan.  Press evenly into cups.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crusts are golden.

Meanwhile, make filling:  whisk together egg, egg yolk, corn syrup, pumpkin, spices and vanilla.  Stir in chopped pecans.

Remove dough from oven and spoon 1 TBSP into each cup.  Top each with 1 pecan half.  Return pans to oven and bake an additional 13-15 minutes, until the filling is set.

Allow to cool before removing from pan.

Chocolate Pecan Mini Pies

Pie crust for 9-inch pie (refrigerated if you must, or make it yourself.  Use the above recipe or my favorite crust recipe below).
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 TBSP flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray. 

Divide dough evenly into 24 pieces.  Roll each piece gently into a ball and press evenly into muffin pan.

For filling, combine brown sugar, butter, eggs, flour and vanilla.  Whisk together until well-combined.  Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.

Spoon evenly into the 24 muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.  (Or until cool enough to pop into your mouth for a taste-test.  Just don't burn your tongue ~ that has the potential to really put a damper on the Thanksgiving feast!)

My Favorite Pie Crust:

(will make 3 9-inch pie shells)

3 sticks butter
3 cups flour
1 egg
1 TBSP ice water
1 tsp white vinegar

Combine butter and flour with pastry blender.  Whisk together egg, water and vinegar.  Add to flour/butter mixture and blend together with pastry blender, until just starting to hold together.  Roll into crusts.  (For one recipe of the min-pies, I used 1 stick butter, 1 cup flour, and then eye-balled about a third of the egg/water mix.)

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