It just isn't Thanksgiving without a pecan pie, especially in the South. And while there is nothing wrong with a well made pecan pie, why stop there. The fall is the time of year that hard squashes get to shine and one of the best kept baking secrets is that butternut squashes make some of the best pumpkin pies. This recipe is a mash up of two of the season's favorites; half butternut squash and half pecan with a little maple flavor to bring it together.
Roasting the butternut squash brings out the flavor and if you let it color a little, you will caramelize the natural sugar in it to add even more flavor. The smokey flavor of the pecans and sweet maple syrup combine to add depth and complexities not found in the traditional recipes.
If you smoke your own pecans, boil them in water for about 5 minutes before placing them in a hot smoker. This step will prevent them from toasting before they are infused with the smoke flavor. When shopping for maple syrup, reach for the grade "B" since it is more strongly flavored.
To complete the dessert, I like to serve it with ice cream, vanilla bean or buttermilk are my favorite choices and be sure to top it off with some warm caramel sauce, preferably one that is spiked with bourbon or dark rum. —janeofmanytrade
a 9" pie
Roasted Butternut Filling
9" pie shell
butternut squash, approximately 1 1/2 pounds
dark brown sugar
pure maple syrup, grade B
Smoked Pecan Topping
smoked pecans, halves and/or pieces for the filling
Preheat the oven to 325. Partially bake the pie shell by placing it on a baking tray and fill it with weights. Bake until it is no longer shiny and greasy looking on the bottom when you lift up the paper to peek at it. This will take about 20 minutes. Prepare the squash by cutting the long straight neck from the bulbous, seed filled section. Cut the neck into several sections and place them on a baking tray lined with foil or paper. When the pie shell is ready, turn the temperature up to 400 and bake the squash until it is fork tender. Allow the squash to cool until it can be handled and carefully remove the skin, leave the dark roasty parts, they have flavor! Reduce the oven temperature to 350.
To make the butternut filling, pack enough roasted squash into the measuring cup to get 3/4 cup. Dump this into the bowl of a food processor with the dark brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Pulse to combine then run until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Add the egg and pulse to combine. Finally, add the heavy cream and give it a couple pulses to mix in. Pour the filling into the pie shell and prepare the smoked pecan topping.
Place the dark brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl with the melted butter. Whisk to combine. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the bowl and add the maple syrup and whisk it together. Place the pecan pieces over the butternut filling in an even layer. Carefully pour in the syrup so that the pecans do not shift and you do not make any craters in the butternut filling. Arrange the pecan halves around the top of the pie starting at the outside edge and working in to the center. Bake the pie until it puffs up in the center and is no longer jiggly, about 45 minutes. Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting.
Serve with scoops of ice cream and drizzles of caramel sauce!