A question about a recipe: Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise

I have a question about step 6 on the recipe "Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise" from merrill. It says:

"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 coo to room temperature before serving with whipped crème fraiche." I was hoping to make this pie for Thanksgiving, but I was hoping to use the syrup/pecan mixture as a layer on top of a pumpkin pie. Would I be able to half-fill a crust with pumpkin pie, partially bake it, and then top it with this pecan/syrup mixture and finish baking? Or would the layers run together? Any suggestions on baking time if you think that might work?



Sadassa_Ulna October 24, 2012
I like the answers already given but here's my two cents: I would bake the pie half filled with pumpkin filling and as it cools sprinkle it with chopped pecans to act as... an edible buffer? Then let it chill in the fridge. Meanwhile I would cook the pecan filling over a double-boiler until very thick (this part I would test out before making the real one). When the pecan filling is cooled to lukewarm I'd pour it over the chopped pecans. The high quantity of maple syrup in the pecan filling concerns me (it might not thicken enough without the evaporative process of baking) so maybe I would substitute some of the syrup with pure maple sugar. Good luck with your experiment!
hardlikearmour October 24, 2012
What if you do the pecan pie as the bottom layer, then the pumpkin custard as the top layer. I bet if the pecan pie sets up a bit, the nut layer on the top will help to keep the 2 pies separate, and I find pecan pie custard to be less troubled by over-baking. Heat the pumpkin custard on the stove top while the pecan pie part is baking to help decrease how much time it needs to finish in the oven. Do let us know if you give any of the ideas a try, and how it works out!
HalfPint October 24, 2012
You might think about baking the two parts separately. For example, bake the pumpkin pie filling the pie crust with only ~1/2 the volume of custard. Then bake the pecan pie without a crust. Channel Frankenstein and cut the pecan part and top the pumpkin pie. Yeah, it sounds like a major engineering feat, but I think you can do it.
Nozlee S. October 24, 2012
Last year at Thanksgiving I made a half-pecan, half-pumpkin pie in the other direction -- two semi-circles. I made a little buttress out of aluminum foil, and it did a great job at keeping the layers from each other.

I will say, though, that the custard overbaked in the time that it took the pecans to set. Maybe make a test version before the big day!
Reiney October 24, 2012
I think you'll end up with a curdled-looking pie - unless the custard is 90% set the topping will sink into the custard and end up looking rather unpleasant. (If you've ever mixed egg into fried rice without first cooking it, this is what I'm picturing for the pie). And if it is 90% set the pecan topping won't cook.

Why not make a maple pecan-star anise brittle for garnish? If you serve your pie with ice cream you could add the brittle on the side for a texture contrast.
Merrill S. October 24, 2012
We here at Food52 all think this is a brilliant idea in theory, but we're all worried about the pumpkin custard overcooking during this process. Not sure how to remedy this. Sounds like a challenge for Christina Tosi!
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