Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise

By • November 9, 2011 • 47 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is from Melissa Clark's new book, Cook This Now. It's pecan pie that's taken a little walk on the wild side: Melissa uses maple syrup instead of the more traditional corn syrup and infuses it with star anise and a little rum. Best of all? Her crust is tender and flaky, as well as easy to handle.Merrill Stubbs

Serves 8

For the piecrust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For the filling

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup Demerara or raw sugar
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons dark aged rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Whipped crème fraiche, for serving
  1. To make the crust, in a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms lima bean-size pieces (three to five 1-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form the dough into a ball, wrap with plastic, and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking (up to a week, or freeze for up to 4 months).
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then crimp as decoratively as you can manage.
  3. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Freeze the crust for 15minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover the pie with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (you can use pennies, rice, or dried beans for this; I use pennies). Bake for 20 minutes; remove the foil and weights and bake until pale golden, about 5 minutes more. Cool on a rack until needed.
  4. To make the filling, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup, sugar, and star anise to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture is very thick, all the sugar has dissolved, and the syrup measures 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour for the anise to infuse.
  5. While the syrup is infusing, toast the nuts. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they start to smell nutty, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Remove the star anise from the syrup. Warm the syrup if necessary to make it pourable but not hot (you can pop it in the microwave for a few seconds if you’ve moved it to a measuring cup). Do not stir the syrup as you reheat it, as it may crystallize and harden. In a medium bowl, whisk together the syrup, eggs, melted butter, rum, and salt. Fold in the pecan halves. Pour the filling into the crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the pie is firm to the touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving with whipped crème fraiche.

Topics: Pie

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Comments (47) Questions (10)

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6 months ago sarah patton

We celebrated T'giving early so I made the pie (twice!) It IS delicious, even without the star anise which I was afraid to add because of licorice haters. My only difficulty was with the @#$%! crust. I didn't have enough weights on hand for the blind baking and the crust slid down the pan into a greasy puddle. Out of fear of over mixing (why in the videos does it look like they only pulse a few times to achieve a nice uniform dough?) I didn't incorporate all the butter. Then I think I rolled it out too thin and it all shrank back in the oven. I live in Switzerland so the flour is different too. I add this sorry list of mistakes in the hopes that one day all the tutelage that's out there will sink in and I will never again have to witness the sorry mess that 10 tablespoons of butter and flour can make. I don't know why, but pie crusts only seem to come out beautifully when there's no pressure and no one there to see them... Store bought crust, I'm ashamed to say, saved the day. The filling is fabulous though and got rave reviews.

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6 months ago crystal

just made this for thanksgiving tomorrow it looks delicious and the house smells wonderful! now is the real test can i wait till tomorrow to taste test it ;)

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7 months ago sarah patton

I'm looking forward to making it. I have some anise haters in my boring family should I risk sneaking it in? Will they come running after me with their forks? How strong is the anise taste?

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7 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

It's not overpowering, but you could always leave out the anise or reduce the amount/length of time the syrup steeps. Good luck!

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over 1 year ago stony

Have gallons of maple syrups, make it every year. This was a wonderful pie. Have you ever seen the pecan pie Bill Knapp's restaurant used to make, it had like a custard filling.

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over 1 year ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

No, but that sounds wonderful!

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over 1 year ago aliagrace

I was worried about the star anise, so used 4 and 1 vanilla bean. I think in the future I will go with the recommended amount of anise because it was a nice subtle flavor. This pie was a hit at my family Thanksgiving and will probably be on the list for next years too.

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over 1 year ago Dawn Jones

I substituted cloves for the star anise, and used a pre-made shell for convenience. My husband absolutely loved this pie! I'm making it again for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thanks for this recipe!

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over 1 year ago Geo

We made this last year and are going to make it again this year!! It is wonderful. Thank you so much for keeping it online so we could find it again :-)
FYI the anise flavor mellows after a day or so. Really delicious!!

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over 1 year ago Salvegging

Hey all- what is the best plan for making this ahead? I stumbled upon the recipe via the make ahead link... Anyone have good plans?

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over 1 year ago marcy kent

how would this work if I made it on Tuesday for Thanksgiving? Will it keep well? Or could I make it further in advance and freeze?

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I too am grateful for all the comments on this recipe. I am not a fan (at all) of star anise. . . . As another Food52'er so aptly put it in another thread, it makes everything taste strongly of Good 'n' Plenty to me. My dear husband adores pecan pie, so the next time I make one for him, I'm going to use this recipe, but without the star anise, using vanilla and perhaps a touch of cloves and nutmeg instead. Also, it's great to get the heads up about not stirring the syrup. I don't have much experience with candies and syrups, so this additional information is helpful, indeed. Thank you, everyone! ;o)

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over 1 year ago DrPrice

I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments. Before I attempt to make this, I read through comments which help me anticipate potential problems. My husband loves pecan pies so I wanted to make him a special pie for Thanksgiving. I think I have found a winner. Thanks y'all!

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over 1 year ago chris rappold

I use a recipe from Greene on Grains that uses honey; it also has a delicious crust made with whole oats.

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over 1 year ago ashley's brain

My favorite step is at the end when you "coo to room temperature before serving...." ;-)

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over 1 year ago Muse

Pecan pie is my favorite so I will definitely give this recipe a try...thank you for posting it! Peace, Light and Love.

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almost 2 years ago Jen2013

Is the oven temp for baking the pie 350 degrees or is it kept at 325?

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almost 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Keep it at 325!

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almost 2 years ago Jen2013

Thank you! By the way ! I infused a Madagascar vanilla bean into the syrup and it smells so wonderful! I know it will taste as good as it smells, and thanks so much for this recipe!

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over 2 years ago Roda Neander

I have made this pie three times already!!! It's been a big hit. Does the taste differ if I use corn syrup instead of maple syrup? I haven't made it with maple syrup because my husband is not a big fan of it.

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

almost 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

So sorry, just saw this question now -- 8 months late! I haven't tried this recipe with corn syrup, but the flavor is definitely different than other pecan pies I've made with corn syrup. The maple syrup makes it taste...well, mapley!

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over 2 years ago megan aubrey

Love this recipe! It was my first attempt at pecan pie and my first ever homemade crust. The crust was easy to made and came out perfect--I will use the recipe for other pies. Making the maple syrup reduction was troublesome but worth the effort. I will surely make this pie again. Thank you for sharing it!

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over 2 years ago KarolLaur

Tried this recipe because once I baked and cooked alot and because I LOVE an adventurous recipe and because I have the ability to make any job 10 times harder than it needs to be. Please, please, please note in this recipe the fact that the syrup should not be stirred much while being boiled down and that it probably needs to come to some set temperature(?) so that you know when to STOP reducing it! I too ended up with a solid mass of crystalized maple and sugar with anise seeds in a tespoon tea infuser aparatus (I couldn't find any star anise) embedded in the solid mass of syrup and sugar. In the end I remelted it in the microwave and continued witht the recipe and I have to say that the flavor was amazing. But, the whole process was very long and laborious. I need to try again at Christmas because I have a feeling that it could be an incredible pie and a wonderful alternative to the bland, ever dissappointing, pecan pie made with Karo and a side of kool whip.

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over 2 years ago Cooldaddyo

Excellent pie, a real crowd pleaser. This was my first crust ever and it was perfect. I would back off on the star anise some to allow the pecan flavor to come through more.

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over 2 years ago Susannanell

My first try with the maple syrup/raw sugar/ star anise reduction was a disaster. By the time I had 1 cup of syrup (15 minutes) it was at the hard crack stage and unusable. I started again and cooked to only 225 degrees and then it was workable. How can anybody cook it that long?

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over 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I'm sorry you had a hard time. I haven't had trouble reducing the syrup before, but I never stir it, and I make sure to simmer and not boil. It seems a few others have had trouble as well, so I will add a note to the recipe about your method.

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over 2 years ago Cymbopogon

This is one of the best Pecan Pie that I ever made. I used 1/2 cup of Maple syrup plus 1/2 Cup Honey and used a vanilla pod to infuse in the syrup instead of star anise it came out very well . Thank you so much for the recipe .^U^ .

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

over 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

So glad you liked it!

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over 2 years ago hmkiese

The pie turned out wonderful! Instead of the anise star (because I misplaced them), I used some whole clove to infuse in the syrup. Worked out nicely!

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over 2 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Good to hear -- I bet the clove was a nice addition.

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over 3 years ago crazyblues

made this for thankgiving in the tropics -- Joe had some pecans stashed in their freezer, bought some fake maple syrup at the local market, added some almonds to the toasted nut mix since it wasn't quite enough. Lots of compliments! thank you! boy it was tough handling the pie crust with all the heat...

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Wow, nice improvising!

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over 3 years ago gardenercook

just made this for our family feast tomorrow... the house smells heavenly; possibly because I spilled some filling in the oven~ I left out the rum and the star anise - what can I say? I love maple, vanilla and buttered pecans. I'm a purist that way... and you don't mess with heart-flavors on Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for this.

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Hope you enjoyed it!

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over 3 years ago Meaghen

Can the rum be completely eliminated without sacrificing the pie's taste?

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, it can!

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over 3 years ago neighome

The star anise adds nice dimension. I felt the rum overpowered the maple to some extent, so I'll cut that in half next time around. Lovely recipe; this is headed to my Thanksgiving table.

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over 3 years ago GreenKitchen

I believe someone asked if the flavor was overwhelmingly licorice - or a hint? Can we make this without the star anise - or with fewer for less licorice flavor - or remove them and don't alow them to infuse? I love the maple syrup/rum version but recognize that licorice can be a polarizing flavor. Any thoughts?

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

It's really more of a hint. It would still be delicious without the star anise!

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over 3 years ago diana909

Question: would like to try making this in tartlet form - the small bite size tarts. Any recommended adjustments? What temp/how long would you bake? Thanks!

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over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd bake the tartlets for about 15 minutes, and then start checking -- same temp!

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over 3 years ago helicopterina

Oh wow. I usually make pecan pie squares on a shortbread crust. Wonder how that would go with this topping instead? Hmmmmm

Cbfb27ea-071f-4941-9183-30dce4007b50.merrill

over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Think it would be great!

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over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Ahh! Now I know what that hotline thread was about. This sounds fabulous. Love the use of star anise & maple with a little bit of rum.

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over 3 years ago enbe

I'm tempted to make this as soon as possible. I love pecan pie :)

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over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This is wonderful Merrill, what a great twist on a classic pecan pie. Never would have thought to use maple syrup. Love it!

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over 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

I thought the maple syrup was genius too.