Nov 14, 2020

Butterscotch Pie with Caramelized Pecans

Prep Time: 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
A rich butterscotch custard base cooked in a classic pie dough served topped with caramelized pecans for a Southern-inspired Thanksgiving pie.

This non-traditional pie with a creamy, custardy, butterscotch base topped with caramelized pecans is a great option for any holiday dinner. Butterscotch is a soft yet rich and creamy alternative to caramel. It differs by being made with brown sugar, melted butter and usually cream, though I opt for milk in this recipe. If I’m making pies for Thanksgiving I always make them the day before and store them refrigerated (or if you live in a place where the weather gets cold enough, in the garage). It keeps the work down on Thanksgiving Day so I don’t get stressed out.

Butterscotch Pie with Caramelized Pecans

What is Tempering?

Tempering is the process of slowly whisking part of a hot liquid into egg yolks and then pouring that diluted mixture back into the remaining hot liquid, usually custard. This process is done so that the eggs don’t immediately scramble when added to the hot liquid.

What is Blind Baking?

Blind baking the crust of the quiche, the term for pre-baking the crust before the butterscotch pie filling is added ensures the crust doesn’t get soggy. This crust is partially blind baked until it’s a pale golden brown so it’s not over cooked once it is cooked the second time around after the filling is added. Pie weights or rice or beans are added to the crust so it doesn’t bubble up as it cooks. 

Butterscotch Pie wtih Caramelized pecans thanksgiving-6.jpg

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Pecans – Pecans add a nutty crunch that complements the butterscotch flavor of the custard. Pecan is a species of hickory quite popular in the South. In this recipe I caramelize the pecans in a brown sugar glaze. Letting the pecans dry on a metal rack allows any excess sugar to drip off as the pecans dry. Make sure the pecans are totally dry before adding them to the pie.
  • Butterscotch – The main components of butterscotch are butter and brown sugar. It’s typically used to create hard candies though in this recipe I use the subtle buttery flavoring for the custard in this pie.
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How to Make Butterscotch Pecan Pie

For the pie crust:

  1. Add the butter to the flour mixture. Add the flour, salt and sugar to a medium mixing bowl. Add the pieces of butter and use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse and pea size pieces of the butter remain.
  2. Wet the dough. Add 4 tablespoons of ice water to the dough and mix with your hands until dough comes together. Be careful not to over-mix (you should still be able to see pieces of the butter).
  3. Chill the dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap and flatten into disks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the butterscotch custard:

  1. Heat oven. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Make the butter mixture. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Whisk in the flour until combined followed by the sugar, milk and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Make the custard. Add the egg yolks to a medium mixing bowl and slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and add the vanilla extract, stirring to combine.

For the caramelized pecans:

  1. Melt the sugar. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and bring the mixture to a boil, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the nuts. Add the pecans, stirring to combine. Spread over a wire rack, separating the pecans and let cool completely for an hour.

For assembly:

  1. Roll out the dough. On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough into a 14-inch circle. Wrap around a rolling pin and unroll on a 9-inch pie pan. Use your thumb and forefinger to crimp the pie crust.
  2. Blind bake the crust. Add a piece of parchment paper over the dough and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake until the dough is firm, about 15 minutes, then remove the pie weights and parchment paper and continue baking the crust until pale golden brown, about an additional 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. Add the filling and bake. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until the center has set, about 1 hour.
  4. Add the pecans. Arrange the caramelized pecans on the top of the pie.
  5. Chill and serve. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 4 hours until serving.
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Other Recipe to Try

If you enjoy this butterscotch pecan pie recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Butterscotch Pie with Caramelized Pecans

Print Pin
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Serves 9

Ingredients:

For the pie crust:

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ½” pieces

For the butterscotch custard:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • packed cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramelized pecans:

  • ½ cup packed cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups halved pecans

Instructions:

For the pie crust:

  • Add the flour, salt and sugar to a medium mixing bowl. Add the pieces of butter and use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse and pea size pieces of the butter remain.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of ice water to the dough and mix with your hands until dough comes together. Be careful not to over-mix (you should still be able to see pieces of the butter).
  • Divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap and flatten into disks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the butterscotch custard:

  • Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Whisk in the flour until combined followed by the sugar, milk and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Add the egg yolks to a medium mixing bowl and slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and add the vanilla extract, stirring to combine.

For the caramelized pecans:

  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and bring the mixture to a boil, about 5 minutes. Add the pecans, stirring to combine. Spread over a wire rack, separating the pecans and let cool completely for an hour.

For assembly:

  • On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough into a 14-inch circle. Wrap around a rolling pin and unroll on a 9-inch pie pan. Use your thumb and forefinger to crimp the pie crust.
  • Add a piece of parchment paper over the dough and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake until the dough is firm, about 15 minutes, then remove the pie weights and parchment paper and continue baking the crust until pale golden brown, about an additional 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  • Pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack until the center has set, about 1 hour. Arrange the caramelized pecans on the top of the pie.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 4 hours until serving.

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