I make pecan pies a few times a year, and everyone raves about them. I use the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe Cookbook, only I increase the quantities to fit my 10-inch pie pans. My big (and only) secret? I use brandy instead of vanilla. It’s delicious.
A couple of days ago, John and I were talking about the recipe, and he asked why I don’t use both vanilla and brandy. Coincidentally, my friend Wendy had given me a copy of Mary Janes Farm Magazine, and darned if there wasn’t a recipe in it for making your own vanilla. You just stick vanilla beans in liquor. One of the recommended liquors was brandy, and I immediately thought, “Aha! I’ll make vanilla brandy and use it in my pecan pies this year!” I’ll sample it first to make sure it’s tasty, of course. 🙂
1 cup brandy
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
Place the vanilla beans in a half-pint jar. Pour in the brandy and screw the lid on tightly. Shake daily until ready to use. Mary Janes recommends letting it go for a month, but I’m sure I’ll use it in a few weeks for Thanksgiving!
I love the idea of making my own infused liqueurs. I think they would make great gifts. I’ve made limoncello, and my aunt and uncle make delicious cherry liqueur using brandy, which they call “Cherry Wizniak.” I’d love to hear any family recipes or suggestions you might have!