Colorful & comforting seasonal recipes for savory dishes, sweets and cocktails. 

Pecan Pie Bourbon Milk Punch

Pecan Pie Bourbon Milk Punch

I won't ask you to hold off on eating that last slice of pecan pie, but if for some wild reason you end up with an overload of leftovers, shake up a batch or two of Pecan Pie Bourbon Milk Punch cocktails.

Milk punch is a cocktail made with a spirit (traditionally bourbon or brandy), milk, sugar, and vanilla. This recipe calls for bourbon (I used Bulleit Bourbon), whole milk steeped in a slice of pecan pie, maple syrup, and orange blossom water. Steeping a piece of leftover pecan pie in cold milk brings in a new dimension of fall flavors, with vibrant echoes of maple syrup, caramelized pecans, and warm autumn spices in every sip. Coupled with the soft thrill of orange blossom water and the fragrance of fresh nutmeg, this cocktail is so enthralling you might just decide to bake an entire pie for the cause.

First, the pie. I fell in love with Merrill Strubb's Spiced Maple Pecan Pie even before I had the chance to taste it. A quick glance at the ingredients list and instructions and I was hooked. Maple syrup completely replaces corn syrup and is infused with whole star anise. I adapted her beautiful recipe to use bourbon instead of dark rum and include additional autumn spices, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. 

Pecan Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
adapted from Merrill Strubb's Spiced Maple Pecan Pie with Star Anise 
1 pie crust, store-bought or homemade (homemade recipe below)
1 1/4 cups maple syrup
1/2 cup raw sugar
2 whole star anise
3 whole cloves
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick, about 5-inches, broken into 3 pieces
1 vanilla pod, ends removed, sliced open and cut into 3 pieces
2 1/2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring maple syrup, sugar, star anise, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla to a boil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Once it begins to boil immediately reduce heat to a low simmer. Resist the temptation to stir the mixture as that can cause the sugars to crystalize, rather let the mixture reduce and thicken for 20 minutes, or until it has reduced to about 1 1/4 cups. Remove from heat, but let sit for at least an hour to let the star anise, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla continue to infuse.

Meanwhile, prepare the pie crust using the homemade crust recipe below or your favorite crust recipe. If using a store bought crust, unroll the crust onto a pie plate, centering evenly, then decoratively crimp the edges and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (substitute with dried beans if no pie weights are available, but dispose of the beans thereafter). Bake the crust on a baking sheet until the edges begin to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and remove the pie weights. 

Toast the pecans at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, spread out evenly on a baking sheet, for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Remove the whole spices from the maple syrup and discard them (or stir them in a hot toddy, it is the holidays after all). 

Mix together the thickened maple syrup, eggs, melted butter, bourbon, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Fold in the pecans, pour into the pie crust, place on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or until the pie is sturdy and the crust is a deep golden brown. 

Pie Crust
Makes 1 crust
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups flour (6 ounces weighed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces ice water

Cut the butter into small pieces then set it in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry cutter or your hands. Crumble the butter into the flour until any remaining pieces are the size of small peas. The flour will look more like cornmeal or polenta at this point. Add 2 ounces of ice water. Combine with a spatula until a dough forms. Add more ice water as needed, one tablespoon at a time. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and set chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle, until it is about 1/4 inch thick and large enough to drape over a 9-inch pie plate with about half an inch hanging over the sides. Decoratively crimp the edges and prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (substitute with dried beans if no pie weights are available, but dispose of the beans thereafter). Bake the crust on a baking sheet until the edges begin to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and remove the pie weights. 

Pecan Pie Bourbon Milk Punch
Serves 2
3 ounces bourbon
2 ounces pecan pie milk*
1 ounce maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
orange peel and nutmeg, for garnish

Combine bourbon, pecan pie milk, maple syrup, and orange blossom water in a cocktail shaker. Add a scoop of ice and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Strain into coupe glasses. Rub the rim of the glasses with the orange peel, garnish, and top with grated nutmeg.

*Pecan Pie Milk
Makes 1 cup
1 cup cold whole milk
1 slice of pecan pie

Place the pecan pie in a bowl or cup and pour the milk over it. Break up the pie with a spoon, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the solids. Use the pecan pie milk immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 days.

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