Holidays centered around food traditions can be a double edged sword for those of us who love to cook and bake. Every year around Thanksgiving, I grapple with simultaneous urges to make all of the classic dishes while also trying completely new recipes. Thankfully our families are very flexible and I never need to worry about anyone fussing about something I did or did not make. Still, it can be tough. This is the time of year to make pumpkin and pecan pies – I just don’t crave them out of season. But then, every once in a while, I come across something new (to me, at least) that has the potential to become a new classic. Case in point: this salty honey pie.
I had never even heard of this pie until a year ago when my friend Audra wrote about it. I was instantly intrigued. I love honey but it almost never plays a starring role. Add to that the awesomeness of salty-sweet desserts and it was a sure thing that I would like this pie. In fact, I adored it. The sweet, creamy filling with the crunchy salt topping and buttery flaky crust is truly a perfect combination. I can easily imagine this becoming a part of our Thanksgiving tradition but, since it doesn’t contain any particularly seasonal ingredients, it can and should be made all year round. And let’s be honest – I sure don’t think I’ll be waiting an entire year before I make it again.
Yield: 1 9-inch pie
1 recipe basic pie dough
For the filling:
- ½ cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. white or yellow cornmeal
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¾ cup honey
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise (or 1 tsp. vanilla paste)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1-2 tbsp. large flake sea salt for finishing (such as Maldon)
To blind-bake the pie shell, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Roll pie dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch disc. Place it in a 9-inch pie plate, trimming away the excess and creating decorative edges as desired. Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with the tines of a fork. Line the crust with a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads. (If you don’t have baking beads, dried beans or rice also work.) Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking beads and foil and bake about 5-10 minutes more, until light golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350.
To make the filling, combine the butter, sugar, cornmeal and salt in a bowl and mix well with an electric mixer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the honey, vinegar and the seeds scraped from the vanilla beans. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then blend in the cream. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell and transfer to the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until just set and only slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour before topping with the finishing salt, slicing and serving. Serve with fresh whipped cream, if desired.