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Individual Pecan Pies

Once on a holiday in New England, I found it very hard to order any dessert other than pecan pie. Since then I have loved to try out all the different variations of this classic - and this one here achieves, I feel, just the right degree of moist stickiness. Serve the pies warm either with chilled whipped cream (perhaps lightened with an equal quantity of Greek yoghurt), or with some well chilled creme fraiche or fromage frais.

 Individual Pecan Pies

  Serves 8

For the pastry:
 6 oz (175 g) plain flour
 11/2 level tablespoons icing sugar
 3 oz (75 g) salted butter, softened
 1 large egg yolk
For the filling:
 3 large eggs
 4 oz (110 g) soft dark brown sugar
 7 oz (200 g) golden syrup
 11/2 oz (40 g) butter, melted
 1 tablespoon rum
 6 oz (175 g) pecan nut halves, roughly chopped
 24 pecan nut halves for decoration
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375F (190C).
Need help with conversions?
You will also need eight 4 inch (10 cm) patty tins or Yorkshire pudding tins, 3/4 inch (2 cm) deep, lightly greased, and 2 solid baking sheets.


Begin by making the pastry: sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add the softened butter cut into nut-sized pieces, and rub them in until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Now in a small bowl combine the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons very cold water, then stir this into the mixture with a fork and when it begins to form clumps start pressing the dough together with your hands to form a ball. Put the dough into a plastic bag and transfer it to the fridge for 45 minutes - the chilling will make it much easier to handle. Place two solid baking sheets in the oven to pre-heat. When the pastry has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of just under 1/8 inch (3 mm). Using a 5 inch (13 cm) diameter lid or saucer to help you, cut out 8 rounds, re-rolling the trimmings as necessary. Line the patty tins with the rounds, gently easing them into the tins to avoid stretching the pastry. Now distribute the chopped pecans evenly into the pastry cases. Next break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk until foamy, then stir in the brown sugar, syrup, melted butter and rum. Beat well to mix together, then spooon the mixture equally into the patty tins, bringing it up to approximately 1/8 inch (3 mm) from the top. Place three pecan halves on top of each pie and transfer them to the oven to bake on the baking sheets for 25-30 minutes. When cooked the pies will have a very puffed-up, almost exploded appearance, but after 5 minutes' cooling, they will gradually subside. Remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling. I think they actually taste stickier if you eat them the next day - in which case, re-heat slightly before serving.


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