Friday, May 13, 2011
Chocolate Caramel Pecan (Waiting for Wilma) Pie
The neighbor lady and I were hobnobing the other day while our respective progeny were playing outside and the conversation turned towards our recent Easter dinner. She comes from a big family and mentioned that one of her siblings had brought a chocolate caramel pecan pie to the party. This, of course, made me think of the chocolate pecan pie that I'll occasionally whip out for the holidays and made me wonder what I would have to change in order to incorporate caramel (one of Mrs. Hackknife's favorite sweets) into it. Out came my newfangled Epicurious App on my phone and up popped the following recipe for something called Waiting for Wilma pie (apparently, it's a Southern specialty and, no, I have no idea why it has such a peculiar name, my meager Internet research skills having failed me).
In this version of the dessert, dulce de leche (a caramel sauce popular in Latin America that's made from milk) provides the caramel. Other than that, I already had most of the other ingredients on hand, including the dark corn syrup (from my failed attempt at making Parker House Rolls last Xmas) and the pre-fab pie dough (left over from Easter when I made quiche), so I decided to give it a go for upcoming Mothers' Day festivities. As usual, finding a key ingredient proved to be problematic. I naively thought that I could just go into the Hispanic aisle of any supermarket and find dulce de leche, like, in a can or something (possibly like condensed milk?). Unfortunately, it was neither there nor in the baking aisle with other sweeteners. The closest thing I could find was an instant dulce de leche mix (a product of Canada, oddly enough) at my neighborhood ethnic grocery store. I have to say that this mix was quite a marvel in it of itself - basically, you combine cold whipping cream with sugar, whisk in the powdered mix, heat it slowly to boiling while stirring constantly (about 20 minutes), and then, via the magic of caramelization, runny liquid suddenly becomes thick in the matter of a few seconds. After chilling the finished product for about an hour, it was ready to use in the pie filling (with lots left over for dessert later on).
Once the caramel hurdle was cleared, the rest of the recipe is very straightforward. I did have to thin out the dulce de leche with a little water so it could be incorporated into the filling and I cut down on the sugar from 1/2 c. to 1/3 c. per a reviewer comment. The pie did need a full 50 minutes in the oven to firm up, during which time the crust got a little browner than I liked, but everyone seemed to enjoy the finished product (see photo above). Mrs. Hackknife pronounced it better than my other chocolate pecan pie recipe (which will probably henceforth be retired), but was underwhelmed by the pre-fab crust. I REALLY need to learn how to make real pie crusts and stop ruining perfectly decadent desserts.....