This pie is so complex that you probably weren’t sure it was even a pie reading this title. And you aren’t wrong, or right, in fact – it’s a pie, but it’s so much more. At Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts, chef Maura Kilpatrick has a reputation for blending American and Middle Eastern flavors. And in this delectable dish, she also combines your morning coffee and breakfast with your late-night dessert – arguably, the two best times of day, wrapped up into one sweet treat of a package, where sweet, dense Medjool dates meet rich, roasted espresso and warm, toasted brown butter.
If happiness could be eaten, this is what all the restaurants would serve.
PIECRUST * 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour * 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar * 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt * 1 stick unsalted butter * cubed and frozen * Ice water FILLING * 2 cups pecan halves * 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped * 3 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee * 1 stick unsalted butter * 1 cup packed light brown sugar * 1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup * 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder * 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt * 3 large eggs * Whipped cream, for serving
Step 1: Make the piecrust Pulse the flour, sugar & salt in a food processor. Then add the butter and pulse more until it’s in small pea-sized pieces. After this, add 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse until the dough is evenly moistened – a little bit more water can be added gradually if needed. Turn out the dough and knead 2 to 3 times. Mold it into a disc shape, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for about 1 hour until it’s firm.
Step 2 Take it out of the fridge and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Then, roll the disk out to round about 12 inches. Transfer it with its shape into a 9-inch pie plate, folding the edge of the dough under itself. Crimp the edges if desired, then freeze at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3 Preheat the oven to 375°. Line the piecrust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or a safe alternative. Bake for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned around the edge. Then, remove the paper and weights; continue to bake until lightly browned on the bottom (about 10 minutes). Remove and let cool completely.
Step 4: Make the filling
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 8 to 10 minutes (they should be fragrant).
While they toast, cook the dates and brewed espresso in a small skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring for 3-5 minutes until they’re soft. Then scrape the mixture into a small bowl.
Clean the skillet, and return it to the stove to cook the butter on moderate heat for about 5 minutes, until it’s a deep golden brown.
While the butter cooks, remove the pecans and let cool.
Step 5 Grab a large bowl; combine the brown sugar with the golden syrup, espresso powder and salt, whisking together. Next, whisk in the eggs, then gradually add the brown butter. Whisk all parts together until the filling is smooth.
Step 6 Transfer the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Smooth the espresso dates around the crust floor, and scatter the pecans around on top. Then pour the filling over the pecans.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. After letting it cool completely, serve it with whipped cream!
If making ahead: The pecan pie can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days if covered. The unbaked piecrust can also be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month.