Cakespy: Pecan Nesselrode Pie

[Photographs and original illustrations: Cakespy]

Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) drops by every Monday to share a delicious dessert recipe. —The Mgmt.

What makes a dessert "lost"?

Well, in the case of Nesselrode Pie, a chestnut cream pie, it could simply be that the ingredients are too hard to find.

But wait: this pie is worth seeking out. Like its namesake pudding, it is inspired by Count Karl Nesselrode, a Russian diplomat and noted gourmand of the 19th century. According to The Food Maven, this pie enjoyed a bit of a heyday in the 1950s as an indulgent after-dinner treat—there was even a product called Nesselro which made preparing the filling a snap.

However, as I found recently, it's just as delicious when substituted with much easier-to-obtain pecan puree and pieces used in the place of chestnut. While the pie itself is served chilled, don't worry about catching cold: this pie is so rich and decadent that it is bound to keep you warm during the dull days of January.

About the author: Jessie Oleson is a Seattle-based writer, illustrator, gallery owner, and cake anthropologist who runs Cakespy, an award-winning dessert website.

Cakespy: Pecan Nesselrode Pie

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About This Recipe

Yield:8
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:4 hours, 30 minutes (includes chilling)
Special equipment:Pre-baked 9-inch pie shell; 6 cups vanilla pudding; large double boiler

Ingredients

  • Blind-baked pastry for a 9-inch single crust pie (butter or graham cracker crust will work)
  • 8 ounces pecan pieces, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • pinch salt and nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • one can (15 ounces) pureed pecans
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 6 cups vanilla pudding
  • whipped cream, for topping (optional)
  • dark chocolate shavings, toasted coconut pieces, or extra pecan pieces, for garnish

Procedures

  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 300°F.

  2. 2

    In a medium bowl, mix together the coarsely cut pecan pieces, 1/4 cup of your honey (save the rest for later), Bourbon (if using), salt, and nutmeg until combined. Roast the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes--about halfway through the baking, use a spatula to flip the pieces so they don't scorch. The nuts should be dry and crunchy but don't let them get blackened. Remove from the oven and set to the side.

  3. 3

    Prepare an ice water bath in a bowl large enough to surround the top half of the double boiler with ice. Use lots of ice cubes and about 1 quart of water.

  4. 4

    In a heavy enamel or steel pan, whisk together the pecan puree, cream, the rest of the honey, and cornstarch. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and creamy. Stir in 1 cup of the roasted pecans. Remove from heat, and let the pot chill out in the prepared ice bath until the mixture is very cold to the touch.

  5. 5

    Very gently (stirring as little as needed), fold in the vanilla pudding.

  6. 6

    Sprinkle the remaining roasted pecans in the bottom of the crust. Layer it with the pecan cream, smoothing it with a spatula, and then top it with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or pecan pieces--choose your own adventure.

  7. 7

    Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Store loosely covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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