This versatile pie received our tasters' top rating. Display it whole during dinner where guests can admire its star-studded top and anticipate its gooey richness.
Prepare dough for Classic Pastry Shell and Pastry Stars. Roll three-fourths of dough to 1/8" thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place in a 9" pie plate; trim off excess pastry along edges. Fold edges under, and crimp. Place pastry in refrigerator while preparing Pastry Stars and pie filling.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll remaining dough to 1/8" thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a 1" star-shaped cutter, cut out 12 stars. Repeat procedure using a 1 1/2" star-shaped cutter to cut out 5 stars. Transfer stars to prepared baking sheet. Whisk together 1 egg and cream in a small bowl. Remove pastry from refrigerator. Brush egg wash over Pastry Stars and around crimped edge of pastry.
Whisk remaining 3 eggs in a bowl. Whisk in brown sugar and next 4 ingredients; stir in chopped pecans. Pour filling into pastry shell. Arrange pecan halves around outer edge of filling. Arrange Pastry Stars on top of pie.
Bake at 350° on bottom oven rack for 50 to 55 minutes or until filling is set and pastry stars are browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Pecan Pie with Grand Marnier: Prepare main recipe as directed above, but add 2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier to filling and substitute 1 tsp. orange extract for vanilla. Bake as directed.
Chocolate Pecan Pie: Prepare main recipe as directed above, but add 2 (1-oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted, to filling along with butter. Bake as directed.
Christmas with Southern Living 2008
Use fresh pecans. Very Rich