Holiday Favorites from Cafe 43: Pecan Pie

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Hannah Abney
Chief Communications Counselor
George W. Bush Presidential Center

This week, we’re highlighting some of our team’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes, as interpreted by John Maas, the Executive Chef at the...

This week, we’re highlighting some of our team’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes, as interpreted by John Maas, the Executive Chef at the Bush Center’s Café 43. He will be preparing them at holiday parties at the Bush Center this season, and now he’s sharing the recipes on our blog so that anyone can prepare the same dishes for their own holiday table.

Today’s dish is essential to any holiday gathering: pecan pie.

Pecan Pie


1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp granulated sugar

pinch salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg, lightly beaten

A bit of extra flour



¼cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

¾ cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pecan pieces or chopped pecans

1 cup pecan halves

1 tbsp bourbon (optional)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3 eggs, lightly beaten

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and pinch salt.  Using your hands, work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is grainy with pea sized lumps of butter. Work rapidly while the butter is cold.  Add the egg and mix until workable.  If the mixture is too dry, up to a tbsp of water can be sprinkled in while mixing.  Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.

Lightly flour a firm surface.  Press the dough into a round flat disk, lightly dust with flour, and with a rolling pin  carefully roll into a 12" inch circle roughly 1/8" thick.  Center the dough in a 9" pie pan.  Tuck any dough that extends over the edge of the pie pan underneath itself, even with the rim, to form a thick top edge.  Shape or scallop the edge of the pie crust as desired.  Place the pie dough in the freezer for half an hour.

Gently place a layer of aluminum foil over the pie shell.  Fill the pie shell ½way with dried beans and bake in a 400F oven until the dough is set, roughly 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and lift out the foil and beans.  Lower the oven to 350F for the next step.

In a medium saucepan combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans, bourbon (optional), and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a baking pan and pour the filling into the crust.  Arrange the pecan halves on top as desired and press them gently into the pie filling.

Bake until set, about 40 to 50 minutes. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.