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.
You might think I’m biased, but here’s a story for you. Ross’s family and my family both serve the same three pies every Thanksgiving. (This is one important reason why I knew we were meant for each other.) Pumpkin, mincemeat, and pecan. Yet while my family always made our classic pecan pie, Ross’s family experimented with various recipes. Some were good, some were problematic. (I enjoyed one story about how the filling never set, so they ate their pie spooned over ice cream.) But then one time, shortly before I was to join Ross’s family for Thanksgiving for the first time, he tasted my pecan pie, and he immediately decided to recommend me for pecan pie duty on the holiday. Well, I went there and did my thing, and I retain pecan pie duty to this day. Experimentation has ended.
…All in spite of the fact that last year, there was a minor disaster when I used a pie plate with holes in the bottom, and the entire pie ended up melting into a smoldering, smoking mess on the oven floor. Ross’s family forgave me and insisted I just make another pie. (I used a different pie plate the second time.) It’s a make-you-forgive-the-mess-in-your-beautiful-oven-the-day-before-Thanksgiving kinda pie.
Just look at those beautiful layers of pure silky, nutty goodness.
If you need further proof, I brought this pie into work last week, and two co-workers asked me for the recipe so they could make it for Thanksgiving this year. (One said it was better than Goode Co., which is kind of a big deal if you’re in Texas. Not to brag or anything – okay fine I’m bragging. But ONLY on behalf of my grandma.)
So for those of you still experimenting on your holiday menu, give this pie a try, and I think you’ll have a winner. Maybe even a new tradition. Let me know how you like it!
- 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust (Soon I hope to include my pie crust recipe on the blog - until then, use your favorite recipe or store-bought dough)
- 1 ⅓ cup dark Karo corn syrup
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt, rounded
- 4 eggs
- 1 ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- 1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Pour the Karo syrup and sugar into a small saucepan. Heat over medium and bring to a boil.
- Add the butter and salt to the boiling sugar. Stir well, then remove from the heat when the butter is melted.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs well. I recommend using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer.
- While continuing to beat the eggs, pour the hot syrup into the eggs in a slow and steady stream. When the syrup has all been added, continue beating for a few moments to incorporate.
- Add the pecans and vanilla. Mix well with a spoon.
- Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake for about 40 minutes. To check if the pie is done, shake it gently - the filling just wiggle slightly.
Store the pie covered in foil in the refrigerator.