Chocolate Pecan Slab Pie
Chocolate Pecan Slab Pie (Deb Perelman)
12 to 18 servings
Considering how annoyed I get about fairly inconsequential stuff, such as decorative paper straws (mmm, wet paper fibers), single giant ice cubes in cocktails (that thwack you in the face when you take a sip), or a single granule of playground sandbox matter in my bed (always the bed; always the bed!), I am sure someone finds it illogical that I find it difficult to get worked up about the evils of corn syrup. My gut feeling is that it shows up mostly in things that nobody is eating for underlying health benefits, and that we all understand we’re only supposed to enjoy in moderation (candies, caramels, etc.); shouldn’t that be enough?
What does bother me about it, however, is that it’s just plain bland—it tastes like sweet nothingness, and though I can shrug this off in small quantities, in larger amounts it’s a real bummer. With this in my mind, I went from assuming that everyone who wanted to make pecan pie already had a go-to recipe for it, to creating my own, with as much nuanced, deeply toasted, luxurious flavor as I could pack in there. But first I have five rather bossy rules for making an excellent pecan pie:
1. Toast your nuts! You must, you must. Untoasted pecans taste sweet but faintly waxy. Toasted pecans taste like toffeed pecan pie before they even hit the caramel. Just do it.
2. Dark-brown sugar trumps light-brown: more molasses, more flavor. By the same logic, both maple syrup and golden syrup taste better to me in pecan pie than corn syrup. The latter, a lightly cooked cane sugar syrup from the U.K. that is basically their maple syrup (i.e., beloved on pancakes), does contain a bit more sodium than corn syrup, however, so hold the salt back slightly if you’re using it. (I learned this the hard way.) I have also used honey in the past, but prefer using it for only half the volume of liquid sweetener here; otherwise, I find its flavor takes over.
3. A tiny bit of cider vinegar (trust me) really helps balance out the aching sweetness of a gooey caramel pie.
4. Good pecan pie causes a commotion, so you’re going to want to make a lot. Go slab or go home (and have to make more).
5. Finally, if you want to gild the lily (of course you do), add some chocolate.