Fresh from the oven. A few of those cranberries pushed some of those pecan halves around – the big bullies!
But enough of guilty pleasures and schoolgirl crushes.
The problem with pie is, I can't eat wheat any more. And most people make their pie crusts from basic all-purpose wheat flour. I'm also allergic to almonds, and most people who build gluten-free recipes love to make pie crusts with almond flour. This, of course, means I can't eat just any pie. Therefore, I search high and low for crusts and compatibilities.
And, of course, I seek the best way to safely misbehave.
This means, while I get a healthy overdose of sugars, I can at least brag that there's extra nutrition in whatever I prepare. In this case, it's a bit of additional protein. Yes, it's a pecan pie, but it's a pecan-pecan pie. The crust is purely pecans and butter.
Seriously. Pecans. Butter. Crust.
As for the pie filling…well, let's get down to business.
2 cups chopped pecans
4 Tablespoons melted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup dark Karo syrup
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons dark rum
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans, plus some complete halves for decoration (optional)
For the crust:
Coarsely chop pecans. Spread out on jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides), and roast in oven at 350º until slightly darkened (about 8 minutes). Allow to cool.
Put into blender or food processor and chop until only slightly coarser than cornmeal. Place pecans in freezer at least a half hour, to deeply chill.
Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit.
Remove from freezer, add 4 Tbs. melted butter. Mix well. Press evenly into 9-inch pie pan† (you may want to lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the mixture while you work, to keep things tidy. Personally, I like the opportunity to lick the buttered pecan crumbs off my fingers when I'm done). Refrigerate until filling is ready.
For the filling:
In a medium or large bowl, stir the 3 eggs, 1 cup syrup, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 Tablespoons dark rum. When the ingredients are fully mixed, add the chopped pecans and the fresh cranberries. Pour into crust. If you wish to get fancy, you may choose to arrange a few pecan halves on the top of the filling, for decoration (and added nutrition, if you want a really good excuse to do this).
Place on middle rack of oven. Bake at 450º F for 10 minutes (if you're working with a convection oven, 425º). Reduce oven temperature to 350º, continue to bake at least 35-40 minutes, or, until the middle begins to set up. Remove from oven, cool on rack.
When fully cooled, cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream (I like a rum whipped cream, myself!)
*If you think this doesn't have enough sugar in it, you can always add a little sweetener to the crust, as well. My original source recommended 2 Tablespoons non-sugar syrup, and I've used brown sugar plus cinnamon before. But with this, I don't think it needs any more sweetness, or people's teeth will start to hurt.
†I prefer to use a glass pie pan for this, because I can hold the dish up to the light after I've spread the crust and pressed it in. That way, I can see if I've missed any spots or made an area too thin. Also, the pecan crust seems to crisp a little better in either a glass pan. I think it may be that it continues to cook a little after it comes out of the oven, and the butter finishes it nicely. But don't quote me on that. I'm not a scientist. And I am a little bit nuts.