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The Pecan Pie Topic


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I have made the Cook's Illustrated recipe, but omitted the corn syrup and substituted 3/4 cup of homemade ginger syrup (chop up 16 oz. of fresh ginger, add to 2 1/2 cups water and 2 1/2 cups sugar. Boil until it reaches 225 degrees) and 1/4 cup Lyle's golden syrup. I have also tried the same substitution in other pecan pie recipies. The ginger and the pecan and the Lyle's go perfectly together. Kind of a ginger-butterscotch-caramel-nut effect....

Edited by challah-baker (log)
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Hello. I owe an overdue debt of thanks to those who have contributed to this thread. Tomorrow, I will be attempting the first of the 'new generation' of pecan pies<G>. I have collected several ideas and suggestions to improve upon that wonderful old standby. I have enough variables to experiment with for a one pie a year series that lasts the rest of my life. Thanks, everyone...


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Here's a twist for you.

We purchased a heritage turkey this year and the family that raised the birds also happened to sell some desserts. The one we selected was a cranberry pecan pie. It's basically a pecan pie with about a cup of fresh cranberries tossed in the mix.

I was a little skeptical about the combination as I don't like cranberry jelly or sauce with my turkey, but the combination of the tart cranberries in an otherwise sweet pie was blissful. I really don't like overly sweet pecan pies so for those of you who do, this combination may not be for you. For me, however, it was a stunner.

Any of you ever tried this combination before?

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I too grew up on pecan pie made using the Karo syrup recipe. But I am positive my granny did a little extra to her version. What it was I can't tell you but I know it was yummy and I have yet to master it.

As for the price of pecans, they are quite expensive here in Ohio. Even from the wholesale places like Sam's Club, GFS etc. But I buy them when I need them. I don't use walnuts too much so I haven't really compared the price.

I think I will try one of the recipes with the butter and brown sugar too. Sounds just like something I shouldn't be eating which is why I must try it.


Believe, Laugh, Love

Lydia (aka celenes)

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Here's the one I've been using.  It outstanding -- smooth, rich, and sweet but not overly sweet.  It has a deep flavor from the toasted pecans and browned butter. 

Pecan Pie

3/4 cup butter

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

3 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

9 inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, toast pecans.  Remove from skillet.

Add butter to skillet and heat over medium until browned.  Reduce heat and stir in brown sugar.  Let brown sugar melt a bit and turn off heat.  Let cool for about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix eggs, salt and vanilla.  Stir in butter/sugar mixture and pecans.  Pour into unbaked pie shell Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

I made a pie based on this recipe for Thanksgiving. I did take some liberties, including using 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp salt. I had a bag of muscovado brown sugar from Trader Joe's (maybe Billington's brand?); some of it went for the pumpkin pies, but the pecan got one cup fancy sugar and one cup Domino. The fancy sugar had a finer texture than Domino and a delicious flavor! I overbaked the pie due to the distraction of inlaws arriving right when the timer went off (I hate it when family expects me to care about them when I'm BAKING :biggrin: ). Also, my oven was acting strange, just in time for T-giving :angry: , which didn't help. The crust had actually been blind baked, so it was quite a deep brown by the time the pie finally came out. I think the overbaking caused some crystallization just under the nuts, but the flavor was fabulous!

[from chefpeon]

... Here's the part I'm fuzzy on. After the butter is browned and you add the brown sugar, the mixture is extremely stiff. The recipe says to "let the brown sugar melt a bit". I'm ASSUMING

this means you need to let the sugar melt to the point where the mixture becomes a smooth stirrable consistency? By the time the sugar melts down to that point, the butter separates out, and it's nearly impossible to remix it. Yesterday the batch was so large that I couldn't stir it by hand, and thought I might be able to re-emulsify it by sticking it on the mixer. The mixer didn't re-emulsify it either....rather, I got hard brown sugar lumps in a brown butter sauce. I went ahead and added the egg mixture and pecans anyway, hoping the oven heat would remelt it all into the gooey filling I had the day before.

The pies came out ok, but the tops were dull and cloudy (not gooey-glossy and shiny), and the texture of the pie was stiff and quite grainy.

So, what I want to know is:

A) am I NOT supposed to wait until the sugar melts completely, but just gets a little warm?

B) is the browned butter/brown sugar mixture not supposed to be that stiff in the first place? Is there too much brown sugar? The recipe says "packed" brown sugar....maybe it shouldn't be


I think the word "melt" may be a little misleading here. I don't think it's necessary for the sugar to truly melt and indeed, the brown butter does not have residual moisture to dissolve it. I found that a relatively brief heating softened the sugar-in-butter, though it was still granular. The sugar didn't dissolve until the eggs were added, but that seemed to work just fine.

Anyway, I think this recipe is a winner. Thanks, Claire, for posting it. I am looking forward to trying this again with all muscovado sugar and better attention to the endpoint. I just need to find an audience that can tolerate yet another carb blast; my household is still working on Turkey Day leftovers.


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Wow! I'm just now checking the thread (don't know why it's taken me so long) and am very happy to hear that a few of you have tried the pie recipe I posted.

Fern, thanks for all your suggestions. I'll try upping the vanilla, but will probably keep the salt the same since I generally use salted butter in my pecan pie. I'm guessing you're an unsalted butter user.

Chefpeon, I hope Fern answered your questions. Her answer is pretty much what I would have said. When I said "let the sugar melt a bit" I just meant let it sit there and kind of dissolve a little before adding the eggs. I put that in the directions because that's the way I've always done it. However, if Fern says you don't have to, then I guess you don't have to. What you would NOT want to do is keep stirring the sugar/butter mixture over low heat....which is probably why my wording is confusing :wacko:.

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When I said "let the sugar melt a bit" I just meant let it sit there and kind of dissolve a little before adding the eggs.

Ok, I'm clear now....that's what I wanted to know.

I was trying to cook the sugar down to liquid.......yipes!

I'm glad I don't have to do that!

Thanks a lot!! :wub:

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Well I made my first try at a 'new' pecan pie. I used the Deer Valley Pecan Pie recipe from *MasterCook*, with some modifications. Good but not what I’m after. Reduced eggs from 3 to 2 in the filling. Used Pillsbury prepared pie crust, not scratch made. Daubed it with extra butter before first baking, and that came out well.

I tried toasting pecans in a skillet. That didn’t work so well. I got them too hot and burned them a little. The recipe uses no Karo syrup. Has brown sugar and maple syrup. I was trying to get a gummy gooey sticky, almost one step below ‘hard candy’ stiff caramelized filling with the pecans ‘lodged’ in the sticky. What I got was a liquid super sweet amalgam of brown sugar and maple syrup, which, while brown enough, didn’t get thick and sticky. Also, it was missing the ‘molasses’ like flavor a pecan pie needs. I also need to use less vanilla--½ t instead of 1--and add a little salt, which though not on the recipe, I intended to add, but forgot to do. I think I might need to mix the brown sugar and maple syrup and cook them like candy to the temp--whatever it is--where it turns gummy and then mix in the rest of the ingredients and bake. That's a guess.

When I browned the butter, I could have done it a bit longer, and or used 5 heat setting instead of 4.5. We had unsalted butter, and I think that was a mistake too. I could have left the pie in to bake a little longer, as the filling was liquid and runny--partly because of fewer eggs--but the crust was getting very brown around the edges and I was reluctant to leave it in any longer. I followed the temp recommendations (350), but may want a higher temp for final baking next time--not sure. Depends on if that will get me a thicker sticky gooey filling or not.

At least the first serious attempt was better than edible. It just wasn’t what I was after… Awhile after eating the inaugural piece of pie, my B/G was 268!!! Put into the fridge, a cooler pie was much more gooey than at room temp and quite a bit closer to what I was looking for. However, pecans were mildly burned in toasting attempt, and flavor of Karo syrup was missing. Maple syrup was not much of a boost. Need to experiment with toasting pecans, and with making filling stickier.

Quite an adventure for a semi-senile old man! I'm looking forward to the next attempt, already. Thanks for this wonderful thread.


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Here's what I use:

9c corn syrup

4 1/2c white sugar

4 1/2c brown sugar

10 oz brown butter (browned with two vanilla beans)

24 yolks

12 whole eggs

1 1/2c Jack Daniels

Combine everything when you have it all together (don't let the sugar sit on the eggs and "burn" them- ther is so much sugar.

Bake convection 325 covered (with foil- I weight with knives), for 1 hour in a slightly under- blindbaked pie shell (I use cream cheese dough).

A ten inch tart pan, with one inch of dough above the pan will take about four cups of chopped nuts.

You will probably want to cut this by half; I make one a day, plus orders- this will last a week.

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Anyone have pics of a slice they've made?

Some pecan pie slices will hold their shape---a butterscotch to caramel color. Others will eventually collapse into a syrup...

I would assume that the syrup recipes are the ones that collapse, but is there more too it? Is it the amount of eggs?

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I may end up eating 20 pecan pies before I find what I'm looking for!

So, what ARE you looking for?

Epilogue to my above pecan pie soap opera.

Turns out I didn't get any pie orders for Thanksgiving (well, I did, but egos and politics

interfered-long story) so I stopped sweating the problem til I had time to tackle it again.

Today I made claire797's recipe again, and didn't try to melt the brown sugar this time.

Worked great, and it sure made the job easier! Not only that, but I added fresh cranberries

to it. 'Tis true, the tartness of the cranberries offsets the sweet pecan filling, and I think

it's superior to plain pecan pie.....not too sweet! The cranberries float on the top, so they

make the pie look prettier too.

I'm going to make a bunch of 3 inch pecan cranberry tarts for my husband's work

Xmas party next week!

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Hum............I'm wondering if what you want isn't a completely different recipe, not a classic pecan pie recipe. What about a pecan tassie recipe where it's mainly brown sugar and eggs................or a stove top cooked caramel poured and chilled in a pie shell?

Hi, Sinclair. I'm not familiar with the term 'tassie', and I haven't researched what it might mean yet. However, I wanted to get away from the 'custardy' quality that the eggs add to virtually every pecan pie repcipe out there. And Harold McGee suggested I reduce the egg ingredient. The 'custardy' was gone, but in it's place I got the thin runny quality to the filling, which, while improved by chilling still wasn't quite my goal.

In the 'good old days' (read When Mom was doing the cooking<G>), I remember an occasional pie where the filling was neither custard like, nor runny. It was as if the filling had undergone a 'brown' change that resulted in a very gummy sticky quality where the pecans ended up embedded in the filling and pretty much one had to chisel the pie out of the pan.

I'm not knowledgeable enough about cooking to know what the term is for the change or quality of the filling I'm after, but I suspect it may have to do with the behavior of sugar cooking in a candy-making-like situation. Unfortunately, it wasn't a sure fire occurence, and it's too late to ask Mom what she thinks about how to get that outcome. I always liked *any* pecan pie, and I guess lately I've just become interested in influencing how they come out.

For now, my plan is to reduce or eliminate the maple syrup, which I love on it's own, add in some Karo, but not the usual amounts, experiment with white and brown sugar, and light and dark Karo.

In case it hasn't become apparent, I'm diabetic, so Pecan Pie of any stripe has to be a seldom sort of thing. Due to an awful memory, I'm documenting a lot of what I'm doing so next year around holiday time, I can move on to a new variation, one that will bring me closer to the goal.

I've really enjoyed this thread, and I'm delighted that I found this forum--especially when I was given the opportunity to ask Mr. McGee how I might proceed. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. I bring a new appreciation to pecan pies, and I'm anticpating more discoveries, too...


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In the 'good old days' (read When Mom was doing the cooking<G>), I remember an occasional pie where the filling was neither custard like, nor runny. It was as if the filling had undergone a 'brown' change that resulted in a very gummy sticky quality where the pecans ended up embedded in the filling and pretty much one had to chisel the pie out of the pan.

Like Wendy mentioned, I think all you have to do is make a stove top caramel and pour it over your toasted pecans in a blind baked pie shell. You'll definitely have a "stick to your teeth" caramely pecan fest!

This might best be done in a shallow tart shell rather than a deep pie shell. Just a thought.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I made Claire's pecan pie yesterday, adding 2.5 tbsp of bourbon. It was great--my friend and I really enjoyed it. He prefers the thicker, denser type of filling (as opposed to the custardy type) and this pie was great. (Really easy to put together too--what a bonus!) :smile: Thanks for posting, Claire!

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  • 2 months later...

I just made the pecan pie from Cook's Illustrated. The filling is slightly sticker/more custardy than Claire's recipe, but it is still very dense (only 2 eggs in the recipe). It's also less sweet than Claire's pie. I think I prefer Claire's recipe....that browned butter really makes the pie special.

Edited by Ling (log)
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  • 4 months later...

I used Claire's recipe last night & it was a huge hit with everyone at our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner table. I've made many pecan pie recipes over this years, & this is one of the best. Thanks Claire!

Edited by jayhay (log)
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If Richard Danzey is still looking for that caramelized nut pie, I've just remembered a recipe we sometimes served at one of my restaurants (I'll PM him). It was called Engadine Torte and was basically a caramel and nut tart made of caramelized sugar, cream and nuts, named for an area in Switzerland.

Very rich and yummy, you'll find a recipe for it here: Engadine Torte

This is not the recipe we used, but that cookbook is not accessible to me at this time.

(Edited to add: scroll down, it's on the right side below another recipe.)

Edited by ruthcooks (log)

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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If Richard Danzey is still looking for that caramelized nut pie, I've just remembered a recipe we sometimes served at one of my restaurants (I'll PM him).  It was called Engadine Torte and was basically a caramel and nut tart made of caramelized sugar, cream and nuts, named for an area in Switzerland.


Thank you very much for linking to this recipe, ruthcooks.

I once had an Engadine Torte with walnuts in Switzerland which I very much enjoyed but I did not have a recipe. I had temporarily forgotton about it too, until I saw your post! This will be a great torte to make for autumn.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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