COOKING: RECIPES

Erin Wright's Chocolate Bourbon Pecan PieWABE 90.1 host Erin Wright making chocolate bourbon pecan pie when she was studying abroad in Germany.Courtesy Erin Wright

Erin Wright's Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

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Everyone has that special dish that means something more than just what is on the plate. For WABE "City Lights" host Erin Wright, a sweet treat reminds her about her time abroad.

My summer semester spent studying abroad in Erlangen, Germany, began with a cherry tart (which the Germans call a torte) and ended with a chocolate bourbon pecan pie.

My host parents lived in a lovely little home in a perfect little village called Dechsendorf, just outside Erlangen. Paula and Leo had a cherry tree in their backyard, and on the first evening in my new summer home, Paula baked a delicious tart made with cherries she picked that morning. Paula and Leo were empty-nesters, but they invited their three grown sons back home to join us all that evening for espresso and her homemade cherry treat. I remember my German being embarrassingly poor and the middle son being rather cute, but it was that thoughtful gesture of welcome I remember best. Near the end of my stay, I wanted to show my own gratitude with a taste of the South, of my own home. I was going to make a chocolate bourbon pecan pie.

This immediately presented two challenges: bourbon and pecans. I would need help finding these ingredients, so I couldn’t keep my plans a surprise for very long. My host mother managed to find bourbon and pecans at a specialty food store. (I’m quite sure you can’t buy this particular brand of bourbon in the States – my research suggests that “Old Century Bourbon Whiskey” is distilled specifically “for Austrian export.”)

Bourbon: check. Pecans: got ‘em. Chocolate: no problem. Pie? …

The German baking tradition, though rich and varied, does not include pie. And I didn’t know how to make a pie crust. In fact, my recipe takes the easy way out and calls for a pre-made, refrigerated pie crust. The best solution was to have my host mother bake another tart crust, like the one she used for her cherry welcome treat. It was close enough.

By now this has become a far more complicated endeavor than I had imagined. Then it was time to do some math. Converting measurements like cups and tablespoons to their metric equivalents proved difficult, especially before smart phones (let alone ubiquitous Wi-Fi). And did I mention I hadn’t taken any sort of math class for three years at this point?

Between the hunt for ingredients and the impromptu math, I started second-guessing my own recipe. What does a pie even look like before it goes in the oven? Surely I meant to write down one cup of flour, not one tablespoon. And what is 350 Fahrenheit in Celsius?

The chocolate bourbon pecan pie that came out of the oven was not a pie. It was a cake. Germans already have cake. Still, the “pie” was delicious and Paula and Leo agreed.

Rest assured, every single chocolate bourbon pecan pie I’ve baked before or since that summer is a true pie. I’ve used this recipe to win over my future husband and father-in-law. Just, please, if you’re going to top your pie with whipped cream, make some real whipped cream. 

Erin Wright’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet (dark) chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Fit pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate; Fold edges.

Whisk eggs, light corn syrup, butter, sugar, bourbon, flour and vanilla until mixed.

Stir in pecans and chocolate.

Pour into pie crust.

Bake on lowest oven rack for one hour or until set.

For more recipes and new cooking shows like “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Sara’s Weeknight Meals,” check out pba.org/cooking.

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