You have only one shot at Thanksgiving dinner each year, and if you're in charge of the cooking, it has to be good. Your family comes into town from all over. Some even fast the day of to make room for the feast. You probably have some solid stand-by dishes you can count on - like homemade stuffing, green bean casserole, and/or pumpkin pie, for example. These are sure fire winners, and they're ones you've made over and over again. You can't fail.
Then you have your dishes you rotate in and out. You have to vary some of these, or else you would miss out on the excitement that comes with novelty and variety! It's a great hook to get everyone excited each year - what new dishes will we see??? Since your brothers, sisters, parents, and cousins count on the mainstays, that typically leaves room only for a few to rotate in and out.
For a meal held to be so important and occurs so rarely in frequency, adding new dishes to your holiday table should be taken very seriously. If successful, once they're added, it's tough to take them away. That new dish could be a new family tradition (this is the ultimate goal), which your family asks for specifically. On the flip side, you could end up with a dud that goes into the trash or your compost pile.
I'm very selective when adding a new dish, especially a new dessert to our holiday spread. In the full composition of Thanksgiving, dessert is the high note. It's the strong finish, the pop at the end to completely satisfy everyone's desire for a full meal. It is the coup de grace that likely topples everyone into a dreamlike food slumber to end the day.
For this year's search, I found the perfect finale to our Thanksgiving feast. Please allow me to introduce Bourbon Tarheel Pie, an incredibly rich, decadent combination of chocolate and pecan pie.
Not only is it one of the best desserts I've ever tasted, it's as "easy as pie" to make. Considering that it doesn't take much to bring this to life successfully, you get an astonishing return on investment on the taste side of it. If you decide to use store bought refrigerated pie crust (like I did), preparation is almost effortless. There is very little risk in failing at this recipe.
Two sources of inspiration compelled me to give this at try. The base recipe for Tarheel Pie comes from Southern chef and fellow Tarheel Nancie McDermott, in her book Southern Pies. Not only do you find this gem in it, this book is full of simple yet delicious, indulgent recipes. Especially considering it costs only $2.99 on the Kindle, this cookbook really is a steal.
As for the bourbon component, I was inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest. Tarheel pie itself is a chocolate pecan pie that, as Josh puts it, "is like a brownie times a thousand." It slices almost like a thick brownie, since it is a composition of layers of melted butter & semi-sweet chocolate with pecans. I would venture to say that it has a consistency almost like fudge, and a similar taste. When you add a splash of Jack Daniel's (or whatever bourbon you have on hand), and it compliments the chocolate with a deep, refined caramel flavor that really makes the pie irresistible. It works together in balanced, perfect harmony.
Whether or not you choose to introduce Bourbon Tarheel Pie (bourbon chocolate pecan pie) to your Thanksgiving table, you should at least give this recipe a try. Perhaps it's the chocolate, perhaps it's the bourbon, or perhaps it's the devilish combination of both - take one, single bite, and you're hooked.
Bourbon Tarheel Pie (Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie - via Southern Pies)
- 9" pie crust, store bought or homemade
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar, packed in your measuring cup!
- 1 1/2 cups of whole pecans
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 eggs beaten well
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons bourbon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a pie pan with pie crust.
Pour your dry ingredients - flour, white and brown sugar - in a mixing bowl and give it a stir. Add the pecans in and toss around until everything is well mixed and the pecans have a nice dry coat. Stir in the beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and bourbon. Set that to the side for just a sec.
Now heat a sauce pan on medium high and melt the butter. Don't let it brown, just melt it evenly. Remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until they're melted. Pour the warm butter and melted chocolate mixture into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients. Mix together well.
Pour the thick chocolatey bourbon filling into the pie crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool on a pie rack or folded kitchen towel.
This pie is best when served while still warm, a bit gooey, with a large scoop of vanilla bean Blue Bell. Enjoy!!