Christmas Eve at my father’s Uncle Frank and Aunt Fran’s home was always so special to me. It was not because it was Christmas, it was not due to presents, and it was not due to the food (although it was always awesome). It was because it was one day out of the year that my father’s family was all together. It was a night that I got to spend with all my family and I cherish the memories that I have from those nights. What I value more than anything else of those times is the time I would spend with my uncles. I have more respect for them then I will ever be able to express. I have formed much of the way I view life by what I have learned from all of them. I also knew that if I was to ever marry, that man had big shoes to fill because I would compare him to all of my uncles.
I do not have favorites; but my Uncle Jimmy (married to my father’s Aunt Marge) was kind, sweet, gentle and had a good soul. He will always have a special place in my heart. Very often on Christmas Eve I would find myself sitting on the couch next to him. He has given me many words of wisdom on that couch. One year he explained to me that he did not know how many years he had left, that he was an old man now. He went on to explain how much he adored my boyfriend (now my husband), that he knew he was the right one for me, and how he looked forward to us getting married.
But of all the Christmas Eves, my most favorite memory of him is the year that my father, along with all of his cousins got Uncle Jimmy a pecan pie as his present. You see often my family would go out with my Aunt Marge and Uncle Jimmy for coffee and dessert. It never failed that every time my uncle would express that he wanted to order the pecan pie, my Aunt Marge would cut him off exclaiming that they will be ordering an apple a la mode with two forks! My father said “If I can get anything for my Uncle I will get him the pecan pie he always wants.” All the cousins followed hoping my Uncle Jimmy would find the humor in it all. As we sat opening presents my Uncle ended up with about “five” pecan pies. He was grinning and laughing at all of them when he turned to me and said, “Danielle, why are they all giving me pecan pie? I am not sure if I even like pecan pie!” I laughed so hard, I cried.
My Uncle Jimmy passed away a few years after that. He did get to see my husband and I get married, and I miss him something terrible. When I had my bakery I thought of him often and created this dessert in his honor: A Chocolate Bottomed Pecan Pie. I think it was worthy of his love, and all the wisdom I gained in life from him. Below is the recipe for the pie followed by a recipe for the crust. I hope you will give it a try and share it with someone as special as Uncle Jimmy and make some memories like I have of him. Happy Christmas!
Chocolate Bottom Pecan Pie (Makes a 10 - 12 inch pie or 3 small 4 inch pies)
(***This recipe easily doubles...even triples.)
6 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped (60-70% cacao recommended)
2 cups Pecan Halves, toasted and cooled
1/3 cup of Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
¼ tsp Salt
¾ cup of Real Maple Syrup
1 nine inch pie shell (recipe below)
First, preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle of oven. Place your chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a double boiler stirring frequently until melted. Also, have your pies lined with your Pate Sucree (recipe following) and par baked for at least 15 minutes.
Next; in a large bowl whisk together your eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup until evenly smooth.
Then, pour your melted chocolate into the base of your pie shell and spread it to completely cover it evenly. Place the toasted pecans evenly over the melted chocolate.
Finally, pour your egg and maple syrup mixture over the pecans. Tap the filled pie gently to shake out any air bubbles that may be trapped within the nut filling. Place it in the middle of your oven and bake about 45 minutes until the center is set and slightly puffed. Remove and cool before serving. (Can be held up to 4 days refrigerated.)
Pate Sucree A.K.A. Sweet Crust (enough for two 10 – 12 inch pie shell or six small 4 inch)
2 ½ cups of AP flour
8 oz of cold butter, cut into small piece
¼ tsp of salt
3 tbsp of four
4 tbsp of sugar
2 egg yolks (large), beaten
¼ cup of ice cold water
First; in the bowl of your food processor place your flour, salt and sugar. With the dough attachment pulse it all together to mix.
Next, place your cold butter into your food processor and pulse with your flour mixture is combineded and your butter is no bigger than the size of peas
Then, whisk the yolks and the water together. Slowly add it to your butter and flour mixture. Keep this up until all of your mixture forms a ball.
Finally, remove the dough from your food processor. Kneed it lightly and wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use. After chilling in the refrigerator, remove and roll out until you have a desired thickness and lay into your molds (Pie shell, Tart, or mini pastries). **If pare baking be sure to place it in a 375 degree oven and bake about 15 minutes, or until slightly golden.