Brown Butter Pecan Pie with Espresso Dates

At Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Maura Kilpatrick is known for her ingenious blending of American and Middle Eastern flavors. Here she balances sweet Medjool dates with bitter espresso and toasty brown butter for a pie that might look familiar but is surprisingly complex.

  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes one 9-inch pie
  • Time(Other): Plus cooling


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and frozen
  • Ice water
  • 2 cups pecan halves (7 ounces)
  • 1/2 pound Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • Whipped cream, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. Make the piecrust In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas. Add 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse until the dough is evenly moistened. Gradually add more water if needed. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead 2 to 3 times, just until it comes together. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round; transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the edge of the dough under itself and crimp the edge. Freeze the piecrust for at least 2 hours or overnight.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line the piecrust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edge. Remove the paper and weights and bake until the bottom is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

  4. Meanwhile, make the filling Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

  5. In a small skillet, cook the dates in the brewed espresso over moderate heat, stirring, until very soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and wipe out the skillet.

  6. Add the butter to the pan and cook over moderate heat, swirling, until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

  7. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar with the golden syrup, espresso powder and salt. Whisk in the eggs, then gradually whisk in the brown butter until the filling is smooth.

  8. Set the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread the espresso dates in the crust and scatter the pecans on top. Pour the filling over the pecans. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the filling is set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.

Make Ahead

The pecan pie can be covered and kept at room temperature for 3 days. The unbaked piecrust can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for 1 month.

Contributed By Photo © John Kernick Published November 2016

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1091216 recipes/brown-butter-pecan-pie-espresso-dates 2016-09-27T21:47:59+00:00 Maura Kilpatrick november-2016 recipes,brown-butter-pecan-pie-espresso-dates 1091216

Aggregate Rating value: 4

Review Count: 9

Worst Rating: 0

Best Rating: 5

Author Name: Rebecca Elbaum

Review Body: I baked the pie for 1 hour.  The crust did burn but the filling was perfect.  This pie is not as sweet as some pecan pies and the combination of dates with espresso gives it a complex, earthy flavor.  Next time, I would cover the crust with a shield so it doesn't burn since the filling didn't overcook and definitely do not bake this pie for over an hour IMHO.

Review Rating: 4

Date Published: 2016-10-30

Author Name: jmfromphilly

Review Body: I so wanted to love this recipe.  Love the twist on ingrediants. Followed recipe exactly.  Said bake at for 1 to 1 1/4 hr. Checked at 1 hr., the pie was burnt.  Had to toss it.  Thinking I must have done something wrong, the next day, made the whole pie again.  This time I checked at 40 minutes.  Top/pecans so dark, that if I left in, would once again, have burned.  Removed, let cool.  Center not done.  The flavor of the filling was terrific, but not servable to anyone.  I had to chisel the crust from the bottom.  Something is wrong with the recipe.  I have a high quality Dacor oven, which I have calibrated and live in the Philadelphia area, not high altitude.  If I did something wrong, I can't figure, since I made this two days in a row!!  Any suggestions welcome.

Review Rating: 1

Date Published: 2016-10-21

Author Name: Barbara Felt Miller

Review Body: I am not a baker but this looked so good I had to try it.  I agree on maybe checking the time a little earlier.  Mine was done at an hour.  I had covered my crust so I didn't have any incidence of the crust being overdone. I will say it was really gooey.  Is it supposed to be this gooey?  It kind of reminded me of a nice hot brownie.  It doesn't matter because I liked the taste...a lot.  I would have liked it a little more espresso-ey but I liked the bitter bites next to the sweet.   I would make it again but I think I might try to figure out how to improve the texture just a little bit....but then again...I don't want to change it too much.

Review Rating: 4

Date Published: 2016-11-26

Author Name: Alexis Sideris Davis

Review Body: I made this pie for Thanksgiving with 20 guests, where there were at least 8 other desserts. It was gone in minutes while the other pies sat on the buffet.  It was fabulous!  I am making it again today. I had no trouble with any aspect of the recipe, but changed one thing:  I did not have espresso or strong coffee at hand so I substituted dark rum.  Yum!  

Review Rating: 5

Date Published: 2016-12-31

Author Name: Jennifer Bol

Review Body: The admonition about burning the pie is a good one.... be careful.  I covered the crust edge with foil after 25 minutes and baked the pie for about 50 minutes and the top was carmelized, and only minutes from being burnt.  And I have very accurate ovens; so you will need to watch this pie carefully.  Also, be sure to prick the unbaked crust well with a fork to prevent puffing up after you remove the weights.

Review Rating: 4

Date Published: 2016-11-24

Author Name: Jocie

Review Body: My guests and I loved the pie. I had no trouble baking it.

Review Rating: 5

Date Published: 2016-11-20

Author Name: @OliveController

Review Body: I eat nothing but pecan pie during breakfast..your recipe is worth trying! 

Date Published: 2016-11-12

Author Name: Sharon Christen

Review Body: Mine came out very dark possibly burt. I kept it in 1hr 10 mins at 350. At 1 hr the filling was not done. I had some bubble over that burned leaving an acrid smell.  So a little concerned ill be chizeling this out of my pie pan tomorrow at Thanksgiving.  Oh well. I hope its good. Ill follow up tomorrow 

Date Published: 2016-11-24

Author Name: Randy Dee Ferrell

Review Body: Pecan pie is one of my favorite desserts from childhood, but as an adult I have found most to be flavorless and only overly sweet. This pie was absolutely fantastic. The crust was a bit over done and like other reviews, I too put foil around the edges to prevent to prevent burning. Baking pecan pie can be a challenge to get the consistency right, but the flavor of the browned butter with the pecans was worth the effort!

Review Rating: 5

Date Published: 2016-11-26

Author Name: rainbow995

Review Body: It smells so delicious cooking in the oven! I really thought this was a difficult pie to make but I'm wrong. I'll let you know how it turns out to me. I'm so excited!

Review Rating: 4

Date Published: 2016-10-28

Author Name: Monica Hasler

Review Body: With 1 1/2 tsp. of salt, is it salty? 

Date Published: 2016-11-24

Author Name: CarlaSofia

Review Body: I'm making the pie as I'm writing. I was not able to roll out the dough or to fold the edge under itself. Maybe Input too much water?  I have it on the freezer now. Also do you actually need to keep it on the freezer for 2 hrs? 

Date Published: 2016-12-24

Author Name: Eileen349

Review Body: Can I use pancake syrup instead of corn syrup? Are they similar? Sorry this sounds stupid but this is actually my first time, so I wanted to be clear before starting off with anything. Love the recipe. 

Review Rating: 4

Date Published: 2016-11-08