Fact #1: I don’t like nuts in my desserts. They only take up space that could be occupied by chocolate and/or chocolate chips.
Fact #2: I love pecan pie. Contradictory? Maybe. When I was little, I didn’t like pecan pie, for the very reason that I objected to nuts in my dessert. A dessert that ONLY HAD NUTS? Foolishness.
But as I got older, and I actually tried a bite, I realized pecan pie is like semi-solid crack. That gooey, buttery center! The crisp, sugary nuts! Okay, fine, nuts have their place. At least in this pie, they’re not taking the place of anything else. They are, in fact, the star.
Come to think of it, I actually prefer my pecan pie…without chocolate. Who am I?
This recipe comes to me via my mom and grandma. It’s the recipe we’ve always used for pecan pie, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve come to understand why. It really, truly can’t be beat. Me, being me, tried to doctor it up on occasion. I added some bourbon, I added some chocolate, I tried it with a whiskey sauce. And you know what? The plain pecan pie wins every time. I mean, maybe I shouldn’t call it “plain” pecan pie. Did I mention the filling is super smooth and rich? Did I mention the perfect layer of pecans on top? But you know what I mean. This is an old-fashioned pie. It uses corn syrup! The horror! Yet I’ve found no other recipe to beat it.
And that’s saying something. We live in Texas. The pecan is the state nut. (Does any other state even have a state nut?) There are plenty of well-known restaurants and bakeries churning out pecan pies that are very good — but I’ll take my grandma’s every time.
…Say what now? Salted caramel apple — mm-hmm, sure — cake, wait what??
I have to hand it to those creative brains out in the world that just sit around and think of things that are delicious on their own, and then COMBINE THOSE THINGS into ONE amazing thing. I want that job.
Seriously, for this recipe, someone said to someone else, “You know what’s really good? Salted caramel.”
“Yeah,” other person says, “And also caramel apples.”
“You know what else? Cake.”
Were they stoned? Am I stoned? No, my love for this cake is completely rational and sober.
I chose this recipe for our inaugural post because in some ways, this was the recipe that started me down the path of cooking. This is not to say that I didn’t cook at all before I saw this recipe, but since I was 16 at the time, most of the cooking I had done up to this point involved helping my mom in the kitchen.
I do credit my parents for exposing me to basic cooking skills. In the summer, and on weekends when it was clear I was not doing homework, they’d rope me into the kitchen to chop veggies or clean dishes. Nothing complex or glamorous, but enough to start gaining familiarity with what it took to make a home cooked meal for a family of four. Then one summer they took it up a notch and started assigning responsibility for one dinner a week to both my sister and me. I think they were just looking to get out of making dinner two days a week. And to make matters worse, they explicitly stated that calling Domino’s didn’t count. Regardless, that was probably my first solo cooking, but it wasn’t really by choice.
Then one day this recipe shows up on our doorstep on the cover of Gourmet magazine. It looked awesomely decadent. I asked my mom off-handedly when she was going to make it, and after glancing at the ingredient list of egg yolks and heavy cream, she just laughed. But me, with all the grizzled angst of a teenager denied a dessert, defiantly roared “WELL THEN MAYBE I’LL MAKE IT!” (well, roaring may be a bit of an exaggeration…but there was insolence for sure).