What is the power of pie? Well, pie is just a pastry. Pie is just a dessert. Right?
You know those are trick questions coming from me, right? I have spent the last 3 years waxing sentimental about how pie is sacred amongst desserts, not because of any one ingredient or any one quality, but for the feelings that a pie evokes in those who gaze upon it.
Pie is comfort.
Pie is home.
Pie is love.
Pie is warmth.
Pie is everything we want Thanksgiving to embody. Thanksgiving is the day we give thanks that we are comfortable, at home, surrounded by love, and warm. No wonder Thanksgiving and pie are rarely without one another.
This year I made my Thanksgiving pie early. I needed to make one. I enjoy that ritual. And I wanted to share it with you. My family consumed this one with gusto on October 10th. But my actual Thanksgiving pie will be made by someone else.
Below is a wonderful recipe for Chocolate Pecan Pie. It is made with cane syrup which is a dark, flavorful syrup that has a very distinctive flavor. You may substitute corn syrup if cane is too strong for you. But my family loves cane syrup and I love using it. Bake this and enjoy it with my compliments.
But, if you live in Dallas County, I’d love for you to consider buying your Thanksgiving pie.
Allow me to explain.
I have become happily involved with VNA Texas, the organization that runs Meals on Wheels for Dallas and many surrounding counties. They also provide less visible services such as hospice and bereavement care for families. It is truly a wonderful organization and as you might imagine, dear to my heart. Each day, folks set out to deliver hundreds of meals to our most vulnerable elderly neighbors, providing them not only with nutrition for the day, but a vital moment of contact with a familiar face. This is a huge orchestra of caring. One million meals are delivered each year. That is stunning to me. From the woman operating a massive mixer or oven at the Haggerty Center to the back of volunteers’ compact cars filled to capacity with meals, VNA is a labor of love.
Several of my friends and I have been working with VNA on a project called Power of Pie. We are recruiting professional bakers, our “Upper Crust Bakers” to donate hundreds of pecan and pumpkin pies to the VNA so that we can sell them to the community. Each pie is only $25. Because the pies are being donated, the cost of each pie goes directly to the VNA to help provide vital services to the community. You can order a pie online HERE. Click a pickup location on the “Buy a Pie” page and reserve your pie today. Then, on the day before Thanksgiving, all you have to do is run by your pickup location and grab your pie. No grocery store drama…just pie and like-minded volunteers working to help with a good cause.
If we sell, say, 2000 pies…that is $50,000 to help add people to the Meals on Wheels route. There is a WAITING LIST of elderly and disabled people in our community who are looking very forward to being a part of a route. We can all help provide vital nutrition and independence for seniors by…you guessed it…EATING PIE. Not to be too glib, but that is a win-win proposition if there ever was one.
So, bake pies, buy pies, eat pies, gift pies…show up with a pie. Now you know why I won’t be baking a pie the day before Thanksgiving. I’ll be helping hand out 2000 (plus) pies to my friends and neighbors. Join me! To buy a VNA Thanksgiving pie, visit the VNA Texas Power of Pie website by clicking here!
Recipe for Cane Syrup Chocolate Pecan Pie (10 servings)
Crust: (makes 2 crusts…may be halved)
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
8 ounces butter, chilled and cubed (2 sticks)
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons water, chilled
1 cup cane syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, whisked
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans
20 pecan halves, for decoration
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, butter and shortening in a small bowl. Work the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter (or by pinching them between the pads of your fingers). Do so until the dough has chunks the size of large peas. Add the water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape each into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk and place it on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap each disk and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a well-floured pastry cloth, roll out 1 disk of dough (use the other for another special pie). Roll it into a round for a 9” pie plate. Should you be concerned about size, overturn the empty pie plate over the dough and make sure the dough exceeds that diameter by several inches. Place the dough circle into the pie plate and gently ease it down into the plate, without stretching the dough. Roll the edges under and crimp to your liking. Place it in the refrigerator until it is ready for the filling.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the syrup, sugar, whisked eggs, salt, melted butter and vanilla. Stir the ingredients until they are fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator and place the chopped pecans and the chocolate chips at the bottom of the pie. Gently pour the filling on top of the pecans and chocolate. Carefully place the pecan halves on top of the filling in a decorative pattern.
4. Place the pie plate in the oven and bake until the filling reaches a temperature of 200 degrees, 60 to 65 minutes. Use an instant read probe thermometer. Check occasionally to ensure that the crust is not browning too rapidly and if it is, place foil around the edge to protect it. When the pie reaches 200 degrees it will still be just “jiggly” on top. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely before serving.
Power of Pie Upper Crust Bakers:
These are some of the sweet folks who will be baking for the VNA this Thanksgiving. Support them with your business, as you can see…they are spending their effort, time, and capital to give back to their community.
More “Upper Crust Bakers” are joining us to fight senior hunger every day.
And special thanks to my friend Bud Royer of Royer’s Café in Round Top, Texas, who was kind enough to let us borrow his box design. Bud ships pies (really wonderful pies) all over the world, so when I knew I was going to be juggling several thousand pies, I turned to Bud. If you are not in Dallas, and you would like a pie delivered to your very own doorstep…think Bud.