May 2014 be a banquet of many wonderful experiences for you all.
It seems that I am not alone in my willingness to put 2013 behind me. Every year seems to have a certain character, and I think of this one as a high-maintenance friend. I have shared many important experiences with her, she has been the source of many lessons and a lot of personal growth, but her personality has kind of worn me out. This moment is like learning that she is moving about four states away to a home in the country where there will be no Internet service. Now I have time for somebody else.
Thank goodness that there are breaks in time like this that constitute the end of something challenging and the promise of something new and better. Of course hope and joy must be balanced by the traditional New Year’s Resolutions established by the Puritans. (I made that up.) Before we commit to various forms of discipline and deprivation, though, I think we should allow one last, sentimental indulgence.
My vote is for an over-the-top dessert, and I have a suggestion to offer: the Kentucky Derby Pie. I have enormous experience with things sweet, and this is my idea of the ultimate. Even though the association is with spring, its rich darkness reminds me of winter. Think of it as a goodbye pie.
Unlike the fruitcake, which can safely be stored until the Apocalypse, the Kentucky Derby Pie should be eaten immediately. It’s a bit like a pecan pie but with the additional ingredients of chocolate and Kentucky bourbon. To tone down the richness a bit, top it off with freshly whipped cream.
When I made the pie for Christmas, I used vodka as half the liquid in the dough. This is supposed to retard the production of gluten, and the dough is a little hard to work with. It won’t roll out and has to be pressed into the pie pan with the thumbs. For some reason, the result is a much thinner, lighter crust, and it doesn’t seem to brown as quickly as regular dough. You can’t taste the vodka at all, but the idea is kind of fun. So here is the recipe, my New Year’s gift:
KENTUCKY DERBY PIE
3 slightly beaten eggs ½ cup finely chopped pecans
¾ cup light-colored corn syrup 1/3 cup Kentucky bourbon
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar 1 6-oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate pieces
3 Tbsp. brown sugar 1 ½ cups pecan halves
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
After lining a 9-inch pie plate with the pastry, pat the chocolate pieces in the bottom. Mix all the remaining ingredients except the pecan halves together, and pour into the shell. Place the pecan halves on top in an attractive pattern. Cook for about one hour at 350º or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. If you don’t use the dough made with vodka, you may want in the last half hour of cooking to cover the edges with foil.
If not the Kentucky Derby Pie, I hope you will end the year with some other final, sweet indulgence. The lifting of the fork or spoon is kind of like a toast to the meal that came before, to all that nourished us and helped us grow through the year now coming to an end. And may 2014 be a banquet of many wonderful experiences for you all.
Happy New Year!