Showing Up Pie

Maybe it hasn’t been made abundantly clear yet, so I’ll put it out there once more: I thoroughly enjoy Jillian Michaels. If it wasn’t for her free On-Demand boot camps that I discovered in high school, all those Brie slices and Gruyere wedges and Caprese sandwiches would’ve more than caught up with me by now.

The thing about Jill’s workouts is that she spends the first 20 minutes barking about wanting to bounce a quarter off your soon-to-be iron ass, and the last 5 cooing monologues about transformation and assuring you that after one more IMGP4675quad stretch, you’re “free to go and have a wonderful day.” It’s an accurate representation of the emotional pendulum most females swing between on an hourly basis (e.g., I feel free and careless because it’s Friday night after a hellish week, but wait, Boyfriend, you brought home unripe avocados and now I can’t make guacamole, my world is OVER.)

Anyways, one of my favorite JM cool-down speeches (the only one I don’t mind when I’m panting like a Bullmastiff and covered in rug burn from doing crunches on the carpet and not on a $30 yoga mat) is all about “showing up.”

Unlike Sheryl Sandberg and a lot of other powerful women who make fat stacks off of telling other women how to act, JM assures you that you’re a success just for planking and squatting for a few minutes. It’s like she understands that you worked a 40+ hour week and waited for a bus in negative-degree weather five mornings in a row and that your hairdresser is MIA, and thinks you’re a goddess even for having the motivation to squeeze yourself into a sports bra.

IMGP4668

Mood lighting

This pie (which, admittedly, JM would probably never eat) is about showing up, no matter how you do it. It still counts (and tastes divine) if you use a store-bought crust. It still counts if you melt down caramels rather than waiting for boiling water to turn amber on its own. You’re still pretty spectacular for arranging pecans by hand – even if they’re not organic. raw, or shelled by machines instead of the delicate paws of a little hay-haired farm boy.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie
Makes 1 pie. Inspired by Stacy Blair/Food52. Boyfriend-tested, grandma approved. (This recipe could also be easily converted into something über neat like pecan pie bars.)

Filling
1.5 c sugar
3/4 c melted butter
1/3 c flour
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 c pecans, chopped

Crust: Most grocery stores carry some fine pre-made 9″ crusts (that you unroll yourself) in the refrigerated aisle near the eggs and cookie dough. But if the thought of making a homemade crust doesn’t induce fear and clammy hands in you, go for it.

Topping
3/4 c sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c water
1/3 c heavy cream
4 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups pecan halves (toasted or not)
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat your oven to 350º. For the filling: stir sugar, flour, butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the eggs and continue whipping. This should look and feel like brownie batter. Lastly, mix in the chopped nuts. With your pie crust unrolled and fitted into a pie pan, dump in the filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes. You may notice the filling will jiggle (like, a lot) when you’re ready to take it out of the oven – that’s 200% normal. It solidifies. Promise.

For the caramel topping: Bring lemon juice, sugar and water to a boil. You don’t need to stir it, but now and then pick up the saucepan and swirl everything around. About 10 minutes or so after it starts boiling, you’ll notice the mixture start to turn gold and then a perfect warm brown (like Zoe Saldana’s complexion.)

At that precise moment, take the pan off of the burner and mix in the cream and butter. Once all is incorporated, stir in the 1/4 tsp salt.

Next, arrange the 2 cups of pecans (you might not need them all) on top of the pie filling. Any pattern goes. Drizzle the caramel sauce on top (again, I didn’t end up using all of the mixture. Feel free to use extra on: ice cream, potato chips, cookies, your fingers, etc.) Let the pie sit for 15-30 minutes before sprinkling a little sea salt on top. Professional.

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