Grandmas Bourbon Pecan Pie or tarts are loaded with pecans, both in the pie crust and filling; which is a bit boozy with good ole southern Bourbon.
A Good Ole Bourbon Pie From Grandma
It wasn’t my grandma’s pie, it was my mom’s pies, that gets referred to by all of my family as ‘grandma’s pies’.
If you watched season 1 – episode 2 of The Great American Recipe, the PBS series I cooked in the summer of 2022, you will have heard my story about my mom’s pies.
You will have watched me make Tahini Custard Pie, crack with tears as I explained that my mom was the best pie maker ever.
She, however, left no recipes behind when she departed, and so we have had to try and recreate her pies from memory.
Grandchildren’s Memory Of Grandma’s Pie
I come from a family of fabulous cooks. All my sisters (3 gorgeous gals), most of the husbands, all of our kids and now grandchildren; cook.
Two in the bunch, my son Omar and a brother-in-law, are professional chefs. An elegant event catering company, Ken’s Creative Kitchen, is where is all started.
Launched by my brother-in-law, inspired by my mom and tolerated by my sister who has her own career, came into being in the early 80’s.
My son Omar, now their executive chef (12 years), is well versed, highly experienced in all types of cuisine, and could win any of these television cooking competitions I have done and those I’m timid to do.
Thanksgiving, or any holiday for that matter, rolls around and what does he want cooked for the family gathering? Grandma’s Pies. xoxo
Pecan Pie Crust
Doesn’t every memorable pie, take us back to a great pie crust?
Oh sure, everything that went in it and on it, ultimately becomes the star, but the crust is what I will remember most. Maybe I really just prefer cookies!
Pecans in the pie crust of a pecan pie, is something my mom always did.
She would put the nuts between a folded kitchen towel and let one of my kids hammer away at the nuts.
Her pie crusts were never made in a food processor, as my impatient pie crusts are made.
By hand, she slowly worked together the butter, flour and chopped nuts, and then pressed them into the pie pan, no rolling needed.
Boozy Bourbon Pecan Pie
I’ll never forget the tall stack of ‘Southern Living’ magazines my mom collected and read cover to cover.
It’s was funny to me because my mom was a first generation Syrian gal.
I grew up in a home of mostly Mediterranean influenced foods, and dessert pies were not in the mix of desserts I remembered.
Often, here in America, when immigrants or first generation folks are confronted with the holidays, I find they want to adopt American traditions.
My mom, later in her life, was no exception and thus… the southern pecan pie first appeared in our home.
What our family now calls Grandmas bourbon pecan pie, has become a family tradition.
Grandma Discovers Bourbon
My mom’s first pecan pie, from a Southern Living magazine was way too sweet.
Tons of sugar and corn syrup, was pretty much the pie, with eggs to hold it together.
Bourbon, she decided, along with some maple syrup instead of corn syrup, was going to take the edge off a ‘sickeningly sweet’ pie, and add depth to it.
She was right!
Mom didn’t grow up with Bourbon in her home.
A different drink, called Arak, was more popular, a drink that tasted of anise.
A cocktail recipe I created, because I like Arak, is Golden Milk Turmeric Cocktail, a lovely warm sip for an Autumn evening.
Arak is perfect if you like the licorice, fennel (I make an amazing Fennel Pollen Ice Cream too), or anise flavor but when she discovered Bourbon, it soon went into lots of her recipes.
Few nuts are native to North America, but the pecan is the star nut that grows abundantly in the southern states of America.
Pecans are among the sweetest of nuts, therefore making for the perfect base to a dessert recipe.
In my home, we grew up with a different assortment of nuts.
- Pistachios, which were found in many of our Middle Eastern desserts – Pistachio and Ouzo Cookies
- Always almonds, Guilt-free Almond Cookies
- Of course walnuts, which always went in our Baklawa (Baklava if you are Greek), instead of pistachios.
How To Make Grandma’s Bourbon Pecan Pie
Like I said earlier, the pecan crust is getting my first attention and you won’t believe how easy my version of my mom’s pecan crust is!
I like to use ground pecans and some ground oats in this crust simply because I think the sweet custard needs a hearty crust.
Once the nuts, oats, butter and a sprinkle of sugar with some spices whirl in the processor (yes mom, I’m doing it the easy way), no-rolling is needed!
The pie crust is pressed into the tart or pie pan/pans (I like to make individual serving pies), and chilled.
Cooking the filling on top the stove for a few minutes is really just to insure that the sugar melts and gets ready to become a syrup.
Once the sugar and maple syrup cools, the eggs, butter and Bourbon are whisked in and poured into the prepared crusts.
Pecans cover the tops and it gets baked to a caramel, custard perfection.
- Food processor
- Wide-mouth Mason jar lids, tart pans or 1 single pie pan
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Citrus press
- Citrus zester
- Baking sheet
- Sauce pan
- Medium size bowl with a pourable spout
- Thermometer for liquids
- Oat flour
- AP flour, or gluten-free flour
- Maple syrup
Grandmas Bourbon Pecan Pie
- Food processor or blender
- 1 cup Pecans crushed to a flour
- 1 cup Oat flour crushed rolled oats
- 1/2 cuo All Purpose Flour or gluten-free
- 6 tbsp Butter cold
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 2 tbsp Orange juice
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Maple syrup
- 6 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Orange juice and zest
- 1 shot Bourbon 3 tbsp
- 4 Eggs
- 1 1/2 cups Pecans
- Preheat the oven to 325
- Crust – In a food processor or blender, crush the pecans to a flour. Add the butter to the pecan flour if using a food processor and pulse a few times, otherwise the crust can be mixed in a bowl with a fork or pastry cutter. Add the oat flour along with the other flour (of choice), sugar and pulse again.
- In a small cup, whisk the orange juice with the egg. While the processor is running, slowly pour in the liquid and whisk until the dough comes together into a ball. It will happen quickly. If it’s too dry, add a bit more juice. If too wet, sprinkle a bit more flour.
- Remove the dough, roll into a log and cut 8 pieces of the dough for individual tarts. Place each in the tart pans (or one large pie pan), and press the dough up the sides, and flatten the bottom. Crimp the edges. Chill while mixing the filling. If making one single pie, do the same, by pressing the dough into place and chill until ready to bake.
- Filling – In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, add the sugar and maple syrup. Whisk until the sugar melts and the syrup comes to a foaming boil, about 7-minutes. Turn it off and whisk in the butter, orange juice with zest and bourbon. Set aside to cool, at least to 120 degrees.
- In a bowl (preferably with a pourable spout), whisk the eggs until frothy. Slowly pour in the cooled syrup, while whisking.
- Assemble – Remove the prepared crust pans from the fridge and place on a baking sheet. Smash or rough chop the remaining pecans into chunky bits, saving 8 whole pecans (one for each top, more if making one pie). Sprinkle the chopped pecans into each tart shell (or whole pie shell).
- Gently pour the filling into the tart shells, being careful not to overfill. Place one whole pecan on the top of each and bake until firm and the crust looks golden, about 40 – 45 minutes.
- The crust recipe makes about 8 individual tarts or one whole pie crust. The filling makes enough for 16 individual tarts or one entire pie. Making individual tarts does use up more crust than a single pie.