Cooking with Booze

It’s not about the buzz; it’s about flavor. Alcohol brings out flavor compounds not soluble by water or heat. That’s exactly what happens in this recipe; the sweet, mellow bourbon just snuggles up with the brown sugar and pecans.

Alcohol also boils at a much lower temperature than water, so even a simmer will cause the alcohol in any dish to evaporate. Then, of course, alcohol is diluted by whatever else you use in the recipe. Even if you’re just dousing a cake with bourbon overnight–which any biddy will tell you is the way to macerate a fruitcake–that too will evaporate.

Beat together ¾ cup Karo Light, ¾ cup packed light brown sugar, 3 large eggs (at room temperature), a tablespoon of corn starch or arrowroot mixed with a tablespoon of water, 2 tablespoons melted butter, a teaspoon salt, a tablespoon vanilla extract, and 2 shots (1/4 cup) good bourbon. I use Southern Comfort because it’s sweet. Add a cup of chopped pecans and mix very well.

This is your filling Melt a quarter cup butter, add a half cup brown sugar, stir in a cup and a half pecan halves, cook for a few minutes, drain and cool. Pour filling into a 9-inch pie crust. Top with pecans, and place on the center rack of 350 oven. After 30 minutes, cover loosely with foil and cook until set, another 15 minutes or so. Cool before serving.

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