With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we decided it was time to get into the holiday spirit with one of our favorite seasonal recipes: bourbon pecan pie. The secret ingredient in this dessert isn’t bourbon — because that’s hardly a secret — it’s barley malt syrup. The malted barley echos the flavor of the bourbon while adding an earthy sweetness that is absolutely perfect for a not-too-sweet pecan pie. You can find barley malt syrup at many specialty grocers and online.

When it came to picking a bourbon, we chose Woodford Reserve for a few reasons:

1. We’re in the damn holiday spirit.
2. The bourbon is definitely noticeable in the final product.
3. We can’t get through Thanksgiving and Christmas without a good bottle of bourbon on hand, so we figured we might as well pick up something decent while we were at the store.

For those reasons and more, make sure to get a bottle of bourbon you’ll really enjoy.

Bourbon Pecan Pie
Makes 2 pies; Serves 16

¾ cup barley malt syrup
½ cup cane syrup
¾ cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
Sea salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract
½ cup good bourbon
2 cups raw pecan halves
2 frozen pie shells

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

Add the add the barley malt syrup, cane syrup, brown sugar, butter, and a pinch of sea salt to a saucepan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to a low boil (you should see small bubbles). After it boils for about one minute, remove from it from the heat and pour the sauce into a mixing bowl. Allow it to cool to room temperature. (Congrats! You just made caramel, which is pretty impressive, so you deserve a shot of that good bourbon.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon. Once the caramel has come to room temperature (or close to it — you don’t want scrambled eggs) add the caramel to the egg mixture while whisking. Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, add the pecans and mix well to create the pie filling. Pour the filling into two frozen pre-made pie crusts and place in the oven, uncovered. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, or until the pie is set.

Allow the pies to cool before you cut into them. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream and, of course, more bourbon.