Pecan pie is a pie made primarily with corn syrup and pecan nuts. Variations may include sugar syrup, molasses or maple syrup. It is popularly served at holiday meals and is also considered a specialty of Southern U.S. cuisine. Most pecan pie recipes include salt and vanilla as flavorings. Chocolate and bourbon whiskey are other popular additions to the recipe. Pecan pie is often served with whipped cream.
Claims have been made of the dish existing in the early 1800s in Louisiana, but this does not appear to be backed up by recipes or literature. Attempts to trace the dish’s origin have not found any recipes dated earlier than 1886, and well-known cookbooks such as Fannie Farmer and The Joy of Cooking did not include this dessert before 1940. The earliest recorded recipes produce a boiled custard with pecans added, which is then baked in a pie crust.
Some have stated that the French invented pecan pie soon after settling in New Orleans, after being introduced to the pecan nut by Native Americans. Pecan pie may be a variant of chess pie, which is made with a similar butter-sugar-egg custard.
The makers of Karo syrup significantly contributed to popularizing the dishand many of the recipes for variants (caramel, cinnamon, Irish creme, peanut butter, etc.) of the classic pie. The company has claimed that the dish was a 1930s “discovery” of a “new use for corn syrup” by a corporate sales executive’s wife.
Caramel Pecan Tart
Yield: Makes 12 servings
Cook time:5 Minutes
Prep time:20 Minutes
- 3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup butter
- 3 tablespoons whipping cream
- Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool.
- Pulse flour, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter in a food processor 5 to 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
- Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool.
- Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in toasted pecans, and spoon hot filling into prepared crust.
- Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes or until completely cool.
Caramel-Pecan Bars: Prepare recipe as directed, pressing crumb mixture evenly on bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of a lightly greased heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined 13- x 9-inch pan. When completely cool, using the aluminum foil as handles, carefully lift the tart from the pan, and transfer to a serving tray. Cut into squares.