Crustless Mini Pecan Pies (grain-free)

Pie filling recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated (membership required to view link)

This recipe may have been born out of my inability to concoct a gluten-free pie crust that meets my satisfaction, but that doesn’t mean these crust-less gems give up anything that you expect in a pecan pie.  They are every bit as gooey and sinfully sweet as you’d expect, and have a nice toasty flavor from the toasted pecans instead of the traditional crust.  The hint of bourbon is nice too!

I’ve made plenty of crustless quiches and muffins in the Le Creuset Silicone Baking Cups , but I didn’t know how they would handle this sticky mess.  Turns out they worked perfectly.  The silicone cups do not require any oil or non-stick spray, and easily peel off the pies after baking.  They also wash up easily, although I recommend hand-washing them.

We enjoyed these pies for Thanksgiving, but they make wonderful individual servings for any gathering.  Top with whipped cream, ice cream, or nothing at all!

Ingredients (makes 12 muffin-sized pecan pies):

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) whole pecans
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (grass-fed), for toasting pecans
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (grass-fed), for pie filling
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs (free-range)
  • 1 cup maple syrup, pure, preferably Grade B or Grade A dark amber
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add pecans.  Cook, tossing frequently, until pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant.  Remove from pan immediately to prevent burning the pecans, and allow to cool.  Chop into small pieces.

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a muffin pan with silicone baking cups, or well-greased paper baking cups.  Distribute the chopped pecans equally into the baking cups.  Set aside.

Using a large heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (or a double boiler), melt the 4 tablespoons butter.  Remove the bowl from the heat; stir in sugar and salt with a wooden spoon until the butter is adsorbed.  Beat in the eggs, then the maple syrup.  Return the bowl over the simmering water; stir until the mixture is shiny, smooth, and warm to the touch.  Remove from heat and stir in bourbon and vanilla.

Pour the pie filling into the baking cups over the pecans, distributing equally.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pie filling is set, but still soft to the touch, and the tops are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely, at least 4 hours.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Yum!

Yum indeed! And our musical selection is yummy too, Joe Henry’s 12th album, Reverie. Acoustic and rowdy, they call his music “lounge noir”, but whatever it is, it’s mesmerizing. Armed with a poet’s touch and a innate sense of musicality, this is a another winner from Henry.


35 thoughts on “Crustless Mini Pecan Pies (grain-free)

  1. Those look great! i really missed not having pecan pie at Thanksgiving this year. I might just have to make this for Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Man, these look so good I’ve GOT to try them for the holidays! I’ve done a mini pecan pie but with a low-carb crust. Your concept appeals to me more! Glad you posted this one!

  3. Hmmm, somewhere I went wrong and they didn’t set properly for me, so when I popped them out they just mushed everywhere. However they still tasted incredible and my family gobbled them up regardless! Going to try again!

    1. I had that concern when I made them, but we knew if they didn’t set we would just grab a spoon. Sorry yours were gooey the first time – maybe they needed to cook longer. I’ll cross my fingers for the 2nd attempt!

  4. These were amazing!! I made them with no bourbon just extra vanilla even my non paleo friends enjoyed them!

    1. HI Lynn! I chose coconut palm sugar since it is lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar, but you could use the same amount of brown sugar instead. Possibly you could substitute honey, but I haven’t tried that and I’m not sure how much to use – probably less than 1/2 cup.

      1. Thank you for the fast reply! I wanted to make these this weekend but I just don’t have access to the plan sugar by tomorrow. I have seen raw coconut crystals available at my food store, an idea if that would work? Thanks again!!! If not I guess I will have to give into the brown sugar 🙂

  5. I’ve never used raw coconut crystals, however I just googled them and it looks like they might be pretty similar, if not the same, as coconut palm sugar. You might give that a try. Let us know how it works, and if they are the same or not! Good luck!

  6. These look wonderful…This year Thanksgiving falls on Ekadasi, meaning no grains or beans….Can you tell me if this recipe can be increased to large quantity and spread out on a large baking pan?

    1. I am guessing that if you tried to do this in a large baking pan, it would not set – however, I haven’t tried it so I don’t know for sure. Even if it doesn’t set, I’m sure it would taste good scooped out with a spoon (would be great with ice cream). Let us know if you try it!

  7. These look so good!! Do you think these could be baked in oiled muffin tins or would they be too sticky? I don’t have the silicone cups unfortunately and want to make these! Maybe I should invest in the silicone cups?

    1. Jill, I think they could probably be cooked in the muffin tin – but unsure how badly they would stick. They are pretty sticky! The silicone cups are amazing and I’ve used them over and over again, for this recipe and for baby quiches and cupcakes. Not too bad for a $12 investment!

  8. Thank you for the recipe, I made these for Thanksgiving and they were hit. I added a few chocolate chips to each one. I was not able to get silicon muffin liners, however, the paper ones worked well. I sprayed the muffin tin as well as the papers. Clean up was easy.

  9. Does anyone know how to store these? I made the recipe, but there are only 3 of us! I’m assuming that I would need to refrigerate like with regular pecan pie, but wanted to make sure.

    1. Sorry I didn’t reply in a time-sensitive fashion. My mother always left pecan pie out, but then again, she leaves things out that I wouldn’t think of doing. They will store fine in the refrigerator, although you may want to take them out to warm up a little before eating.

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