Smokin’ & Smooth: A Tale of Two Pecan Pies

I had a dream of two pecan pies. One was smokey with toasted or even fire-roasted pecans with chipotle powder – sweet, smokey and buttery rolled into each bite. The other was smooth and dreamy with Kahlua and cream. Two bites, two tastes each as similar as they are different. Freakin’ yum. (Mom: If you do not want to eat something with chipotle powder nobody is making you. Just leave it out, or put in some cinnamon.)


12 T butter
2 cups pastry or all purpose (dip and sweep measure method)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 c cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces or so
2 T ice water
3 t vinegar

Cut the butter into cubes and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Place flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl or ziploc bag the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Pour flour mixture into a food processor with the cream cheese pieces. Process with metal blade for about 20 seconds or until it looks like a coarse meal. Add the frozen butter and process until the butter is larger than pea size. Add in water and vinegar. Process until butter is small pea sized. The crust will be in particles. Divide in half and transfer each half to a ziploc bag or large sheet of plastic wrap. Kneed the crust together from the outside of the bag or by bringing the edges of the plastic wrap together. Kneed together into a large disc. Place disc in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. You want to handle this dough as little as possible with your hands so that the butter chunks stay intact and do not melt.

Roll out each crust between two sheets of plastic wrap until it is about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer crust to pie 10 inch diamater pie pan. Trim excess to fit pan or fold under. This crust does not shape well, so just shape to be even. Return to the freezer while you make the filling.

Any of this can be done days ahead. Just freeze the crusts. If you are doing this before you roll the crust out thaw it in the refrigerator.

*This crust recipe is based on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Sour Cream Crust found in the Pie and Pastry Bible – and excellent book, except that there are no pecan pie recipes.


4 large eggs, beaten a bit
2 egg yolks, beaten a bit
2 cups sugar
2 cups dark corn syrup
6 T butter, melted
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

1- 2 t chipotle powder

2 1/2 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons cream

3 1/2 cups pecans

Take 3/4 cup of the pecans and toast them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Or if you happen to be smoking something (this does happen in my house) add them into the smoker and smoke for about 20 minutes. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350°f.

Get two large bowls. Put half of each of the first 7 ingredients in each bowl. Or you can also put all of the top seven ingredients in one bowl and divide them after they are mixed together. However, I just prefer to stick two eggs in one bowl, two eggs in the other bowl, beat the eggs in the first, then the second, etc. When all the ingredients are in the appropriate bowl combo, l whisk them together until well combined.

Add the chipotle powder (if you are using it) into one bowl and the Kahlua and cream to the other and mix in. Take 1 cup of pecans and chop up until they are broken up nicely. Mix them in with the toasted nuts and put them in the chipotle pie filling. (Mom: I’m going to call it that even if you are not putting any chipotle powder in it. It’s okay.) Chop up the remaining nuts and add to the Kahlua one.*

Place pies on large cookie sheet. Pour fillings into pies. Cover the top of the crust with strips of tin foil. Transfer to the oven. The total baking time is an hour and 10 minutes. Twenty to 30 minutes before it’s done you want to remove the tin foil strips from the crusts to let them brown up. When the crusts are golden and the filling is puffed up and set they are done. The center may still move when the dish is shaken. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream if you so desire.

* A note about nut size and pecan pie. (A guy I currently work with would have a field day with that sentence.) For a prettier look you can save off some of the whole pecan halves that and lay them down on top of the pie filling after you pour it into the crust – then just press the halves down under the filling until the liquid rises up and covers them. They will be visible and all prettily laid out on top once the pie is baked. However, this makes the pie a pain in the butt to cut so that the wedges come out clean. For the most part the pecan halves just mush down the would be clean sides of the pie. It’s really a toss up, how you do it. Or you need to make sure that the pretty pecan halves are organized in such a way that cutting between them is easy.


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