The only reason we made these into mini pies, and not a 9-inch pie, was so that we could share them with the other volunteers at our downtown walk. And, we hope that from the name, you’ll realize that these were intended to help celebrate Mardi Gras, which, for some reason, was on a Tuesday this year. Looking at next year’s calendar, it seems that Mardi Gras will, once again, be on a Tuesday. You think they’d switch the name to something like “Fat Tuesday.”
So, this recipe comes pretty much from our well-thumbed copy of Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. All we did was choose a different pie crust, include bourbon for the flavoring, and make ’em small. We will suggest that you omit the slight pre-baking of the pie shells that Joy recommends; we found the crust slumped too much.
We like to get our eggs from hens that live like hens, eating bugs, and grass, and all the things a hen should eat. Better for the hens means better eggs for you. What could be simpler? We always use unsalted butter; why have someone in a factory add salt? They don’t know what you’re making, you do! For the corn syrup, we avoid the stuff that has high-fructose corn syrup, which means the store brands. We stick with Karo, and, if they want to send us a case for that uncompensated and unsolicited plug, well, bless their hearts. For the bourbon, if you have one you like, use that; we don’t, so we just picked up a nip of Jim Beam at a local liquor store.
Note: We suggest that you make a double batch of Pâte Brisée; otherwise, you’ll end up with filling left over and no place to put it. With a double batch, you can roll out the leftover crust out and make a thinner 9-inch pie with the remaining filling. That’s what we did.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Now, JoC suggests preheating the oven to 450°F and pre-baking the crusts for 5 to 7 minutes before filling them. We did that and it resulted in a lot of slumpage, so we aren’t going to recommend it.
Divide and roll dough. Okay, how do you get 48 equal portions of dough? Here’s what we did. We had a full double batch, so we cut one in half, then in half again (4 pieces), then in half again (8 pieces), then in half again (16), and then each piece in half once again (32). We cut the second batch in half, and put away one piece for later. The other piece we divided the same way as described above, making 16 pieces. We did not do all the dividing all at once, as the dough would warm, so we worked our way down, cutting a piece at a time, rolling as soon as we got to the right size. We also found it easiest to place the nugget of dough between two pieces of parchment before rolling. When rolling each piece of dough, aim for a circle about 3-4 inches across, so that it will fill the mini-muffin cup.
Press into pan. Place each rolled-out circle of dough into the mini-muffin cups, and, if desired, trim off the rough edges at the top. Try not to stretch the dough to fit — we know it’s difficult to get the dough into the pan without stretching it a bit — do the best you can.
Freeze dough. Once the pan is full of unbaked crusts, place it in the freezer and allow the dough to freeze solid, at least 15 minutes, but probably more like 30 minutes.
Beat filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together, well, everything but the pecans. That means the eggs, sugar, salt, melted butter, corn syrup, and bourbon. Start out slowly, but work the mixer up to medium-low and let it beat a good minute or two. Scrape the sides of the bowl, because corn syrup tends to cling and not get mixed into the rest of the batter.
Stir in pecans. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the pecans. It won’t look like enough for the amount of batter, but they’ll form a layer on top while baking.
Fill mini-pies. Remove the prepared pie shells from the freezer and fill each using about a tablespoon of batter, or enough to fill the shell completely. Try not to let it run over the top, as the filling will stick to pretty much any pan as it bakes, making a real mess to clean up. We know this from experience.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake until browned, the filling is puffed, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes.
Remove and cool. Once the mini-pies are out of the oven, let them cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes so the crust and filling firm up, then remove them using a sharp knife around the edges, and cool completely on a wire rack.
Good, but troublesome. At such a small size, the flavor and impact of the filling was diminished as compared to a full-size pie (we did make one of those and it was great, plus super easy). So, unless you really need mini-pies for some reason, we steer you more towards a pie you could slice. Five stars as a full-size pie, three as mini pies.