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Thanksgiving is almost here. Ready to show off those pandemic baking skills? 

click to enlarge It takes six hours to make this chocolate pie — but it's worth the wait. - NINA RANGEL
  • Nina Rangel
  • It takes six hours to make this chocolate pie — but it's worth the wait.
While the pandemic is still with us, this holiday season is likely to be a more positive experience that last year’s.

First and foremost, the Centers for Disease Control now says families can gather to celebrate, assuming everyone’s been vaccinated. But second — for some of us anyway — the holiday marks our first opportunity to show off all the baking skills we honed during our quarantine time.

That’s why we’re sharing two dessert recipes for at-home holiday cooking. They’re not too difficult for baking hobbyists, and your grandmother may even reconsider where things went wrong with you.

Cibolo Moon’s Pecan Bourbon Tart

The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is known for scenic views and championship golf courses, but the resort’s award-winning restaurant Cibolo Moon has merits of its own. The eatery offered up a recipe for its decadent Pecan Bourbon Tart for home cooks who like a little nip of bourbon while getting the big holiday meal together.

Prepared (baked) 9-inch pie crust
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
2 eggs, separated
4 cups pecan pieces
½ cup bourbon of your choice 

1. Prepare the filling by combining the sugar, lemon juice and water in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to medium and cook until it starts to turn to a light caramel color.

2. Remove the pan from the heat, carefully stir in the whipping cream and bourbon and allow the mixture to cool. Add egg yolks and pecan pieces and pour mixture into prepared pie crust.

3. Cover the edges of your crust with foil and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is set and the top lightly browned.

4. Allow the tart to cool, cut and serve.

Worth the Wait Chocolate Pie

Six hours to make a pie may seem like overkill, but trust in the process. It’s worth it. This is one of the pies made every holiday at my family’s home, using the darkest chocolate a writer’s salary can afford. Slightly sweetened whipped cream lightens the chocolatey filling — if you choose to use it. I highly recommend you do.

1 baked 9-inch pie crust
1½ cups granulated sugar
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces of dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Homemade whipped cream for topping

1. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk and heavy cream until well-combined and egg yolks are well broken up.

3. While whisking the dry ingredients, drizzle the egg yolk mixture into the dry ingredients until completely combined.

4. Transfer saucepan to stovetop over medium heat and whisk frequently until ingredients begin to thicken. A note for those unaccustomed to making custards: this will take several minutes. Don’t crank up the heat or your filling may not thicken properly.  

5. Once mixture has thickened — it should have a pudding-like consistency — whisk constantly, remove from heat and immediately add chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla extract. Stir until chocolate and butter are completely melted and mixture is smooth.

6. Pour pie filling through a fine mesh strainer into a medium-sized heatproof bowl.

7. Pour filling into prepared pie crust and place a piece of clear wrap or parchment paper directly against the surface of the chocolate to prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the pie as it cools. Allow to chill in the refrigerator at least 6 hours, or overnight, before slicing and serving.

8. Top with whipped cream just before serving. I like to add a big dollop of whipped cream right on top.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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January 12, 2022

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