Maple pecan chocolate pie

One of my husband’s friends hosts an annual Christmas dinner and, for as long as I’ve been attending, I’ve brought a dessert (predictable, I know).  This year I decided to bring a pecan pie because I’ve developed an obsession with these delicious nuts.  I’m not sure when or how it happened but I just want to add them to absolutely everything from mains to salads to desserts.  Pecan pie recipes are everywhere: it’s a classic Southern U.S. dessert with universal appeal.  As usual, I found a few recipes that sounded pretty good and put my own spin on them.  This recipe uses my standard pie crust, but you could always change it up with a shortbread crust instead.  I felt that the filling was so rich that a simple crust would compliment it best.  Instead of using a typical filling, I chose to use maple syrup: both to add a little Canadiana, and also because I dislike high fructose corn syrup.  The final touch to this pie is chunks of semisweet chocolate; this is not necessary, and could be substituted with more pecans if you wanted a less amazing, boring pie.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen butter
6 tbsp ice water
Rolling pin
Pastry/cutting board
Bowl
Box or potato grater

Sift your flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  Then grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and toss lightly with your fingers until thoroughly combined.

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Sprinkle in the ice water and stir with your fingers, mixing and firmly kneading until the dough comes together into a ball.  Next, flatten your dough into a disk, wrap in cellophane and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3 tbsp butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups pecan halves
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chunks (I used PC brand)
Pie plate
Baking pan
Preheat your oven to 350 F and toast your pecans for 8 minutes then set aside.
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Melt your butter.  Mix your beaten eggs, flour, vanilla and maple syrup until combined then add your butter.
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Next, mix in your chocolate chunks and roasted pecans.
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Roll out your pie dough and place in a baking plate then pour your filling in.  Place your pie plate on a baking sheet to prevent dripping and bake for 50-60 minutes.
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If you find your crust is baking too fast, cover the edges with foil to prevent burning while the filling sets.
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Allow your pie to cool fully on a baking sheet before serving.
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I think it was a hit!
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Spiced maple apple pie

When my family recently invited my husband and I for a Chanukah dinner it was understood that I would be bringing dessert (given that it is my specialty).  I wanted to bring something seasonal, if not actually traditional for Chanukah.  As per usual, my mother was preparing way too much food for the five of us so I wanted to bring a dessert that would be delicious but less rich than some of my regular specialties.  My brother suggested an apple pie, so I set to work creating an amazing recipe.  My previous experience with pie making was straight from a recipe book and I was less than thrilled with the results: it had no flavour and tasted like store bought.  This pie has all the spices I associate with the holiday season: cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, with a Canadian twist: maple syrup.  The result is a delicious apple pie filled with sumptuous spices in a flaky crust.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup frozen butter (my trick is to cut the desired butter off the cube, wrap it in cellophane and freeze it overnight)
12 tablespoons ice water (a bit less than a cup)
Standard box or potato grater

Sift your flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  Then grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and toss lightly with your fingers until thoroughly combined.

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Sprinkle in the ice water and stir with your fingers, mixing and firmly kneading until the dough comes together into a ball.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces; making sure that one half is slightly larger than the other. Flatten each ball into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes while you prepare your filling.

4-6 Granny Smith apples (you can use Empire or Spartan but I prefer the tartness of the Granny Smith with the sweetness of the sugar and maple syrup)
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
¼ cup maple syrup
2 cloves
1 medium cinnamon stick
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar, for sprinkling
Cup
Pastry brush
9 inch pie dish
Large pot
Baking tray

Peel and slice the apples into 1 cm pieces and set aside.  Heat your maple syrup, cloves and a cinnamon stick at medium low heat in a large pot.

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When your syrup starts to bubble, add your apples.

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When the apples are cooked but not mushy (about 10 minutes), remove them from the heat and set aside.  Discard the cinnamon stick and cloves and toss the apples with the brown sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon.

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Pre heat your oven to 375 F.  Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly, just until it’s pliable. Lightly flour your hands, the rolling pin, your work surface and the dough.  Roll out the larger pastry piece into a circle large enough to slightly overlap the edges of your pie dish. As you roll your dough lightly flour it every time its diameter doubles, then flip it over and continue rolling. Transfer the dough to the pie dish by folding it into quarters then unfolding it in the dish.

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Add the apple mixture to the bottom crust. Roll out the remaining smaller piece of dough and cut out a cute shape to allow the steam to escape: I cut a Star of David out of the crust for our Chanukah dinner.  Carefully place your crust over the top of the pie.

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Roll and crimp the edges of the dough together, tightly sealing them.  Mix your egg and water in a cup and brush over the pie.  Sprinkle the sugar over the crust, this adds a slight crunch and beautiful colour.  Don’t worry if your pie isn’t perfect, it’s ‘homemade quality’ is part of the charm.  Place your pie on a baking tray (in case it drips) on the bottom rack of oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling.

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Enjoy fresh from the oven with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream!

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