I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is only a few days away! Jeremy and I are going to my parents this year, and I’m in charge of the pies (pear pecan pies and otherwise), sweet potatoes, cornbread, cheeseboard, and rolls (and I’m going to sneakily make and bring some of my roasted brussel sprouts in an effort to convince my mother of their tastiness). If you’re looking for some menu-inspiration, I have my go-to’s below, and am sharing a new go-to with you guys here today in the form of these adorable pear pecan mini-pies. The pears are sauteed a bit to help caramelize them and evaporate out the excess juices, then they’re tossed with a custard-like mixture made from Vermont Creamery creme fraiche, golden syrup, and cinnamon. Stir in a few pears, pour it into the little pie crusts, bake, and voila! The tastiest and prettiest little individual pies you could ask for. If you’ve never used creme fraiche before, it can be substituted for heavy cream in any recipe (except for making homemade whipped cream) and it has the most wonderfully silky, thick, velvety texture. It also has a slightly tangy flavor to it (think a more mild sour cream) that I especially love in desserts. If you mix it with a little honey or maple syrup and some cinnamon, it makes a *killer* pie topping (whipped cream? No thank you, I got my girl creme fraiche to keep me company.) Ok, I’m off to go grocery shopping for all my Thanksgiving dishes (with me luck braving the madness of my local market!)—wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with good food, company, and fun, and hope you enjoy these pear pecan mini-pies!
Thanksgiving Menu Suggestions
Roast Turkey with Pears and Sage
Cast Iron Cornbread Stuffing with Leeks, Sausage, and Pears
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan
Apple Pear and Brandy Cider
Salted Rose and Honey Pie
Pear Pecan and Creme Fraiche Mini Pies
Yield (8) 5-inch pies
This recipe will soon become a holiday favorite! Please note that it does require specialized 5-inch pie pans (these are in the equipment list below), and make sure to follow the instructions on pre-cooking the pars filling to evaporate out some of the excess juices and concentrate down the pear flavor.
Flakey Pie Crust
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt
12 ounces unsalted butter, cold and hard
8 to 12 tablespoons ice water
1 egg, whisked (for egg wash)
Pear Pecan Filling
1 1/2 pounds pears, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 small pears, whole
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Vermont Creamery creme fraiche
1/4 cup lyle's golden syrup (can substitute dark corn syrup)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons flake sea salt
1 1/2 cups raw whole pecans
Pear Pecan Filling
For the pie filling, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped pears and cook until they soften and a good amount of their moisture has evaporate from the pan, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every couple minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
If you'd like to have the decorative whole partially sliced pears on top of three of the pies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the pears and then slice them lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices, but leave the last 1/2-inch attached at the end where the stem is. Gently transfer the partially sliced pears to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then flatten the pears slightly by *gently* pulling the slices a little apart from each other, spreading out the layers like a fan. Repeat with the remaining 2 pears. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes to allow some of the excess moisture of the pear to evaporate. (Taking this extra step will keep the pies from getting too soggy at the bottom.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, creme fraiche, golden syrup, honey, vanilla extract, and salt, until smooth. Set aside.
Flakey Pie Crust
To prepare the crust, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Grate the butter over the bowl on the largest hole setting, stopping every couple minutes to stir in the grated butter bits so that they don’t form one giant butter shard clump. Pinch the dough between your fingertips until it resembles coarse sand. Add the water in small increments, stirring, until 8 tablespoons of the water is added. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds to help disperse the moisture, then grab a handful of the mixture and squeeze. If it generally sticks together when you let go, it is fine. If it completely crumbles apart, it needs another tablespoon or two of water. Once the dough holds its shape, pat it into a rough circle, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out (8) 6 1/2-inch circles out of the dough, and place one in each of the mini pie pans, letting the excess dough hang over the edge.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the pie crust is prepared and the pie pans are ready to be filled, stir the sautéed pears and the whole pecans into the egg mixture. Evenly distribute the mixture between the pie pans, but leave three of the pies with a bit less filling. Use a large spatula to gently transfer the roasted pears onto each of those three pies. Use the remaining crust to lattice the pies without the whole pears on top, and then fold the excess dough overhanging the edges of the pie back over the ends of the lattice, and crimp to form the edge of the crust. Lightly brush the exposed crust with the egg wash.
Place the pie pans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until the crust is golden brown and the filling is lightly golden on top, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.