Pecan pie is generally considered an old Southern favorite, but it's not as old as I first imagined. A few clippings of recipes for "Texas Pecan Pie from the late 1800s exist, one being from the November 26th, 1898 Goshen Daily Democrat, the newspaper from the Indiana town just adjacent to the one where I grew up, and another from a February 1886 edition of Harper's Bazaar. These early varieties are thought to have been a variation of a German nusstorte, brought to Texas by German settlers, but most food historians agree that pecan pie is a 20th century American creation, combining a traditional sugar pie with popular nut confections like pralines.
While the dessert wasn't invented by Karo, it was certainly popularized by the company, as most recipes then and now call for the syrup by name. Though I certainly wont turn down a slice that's made with the stuff, I prefer pecan pie that calls for other sweeteners, be it molasses, sorghum, or brown sugar. One of my favorites is this Pecan Pie with Brown Sugar adapted from Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies. Heating the brown sugar with butter makes for a rich, toasted flavor that far surpasses any taste corn syrup is capable of producing. Once baked, the sweet buttery filling becomes a caramel that oozes out from under the nut layer. Serve it at room temperature or slightly cooled, with a scoop of bourbon whipped cream, or add a teaspoon of bourbon to the filling itself.
Pecan Pie with Brown Sugar
Adapted from Nancie McDermott's Southern Pies
Nothing in the House pie crust recipe, halved
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter (if using unsalted, salt to taste)
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
1 1/2 cups (about 6 oz.) pecans, halved
1. Prepare half of Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least one hour before rolling and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Let chill for 15 more minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and flour until well-mixed. Add the butter and place the pan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook until butter is melted and combined with the sugar mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and bourbon (if using) until well-combined. While gently stirring, slowly pour the warm sugar mixture into the milk mixture. Whisk until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and scatter the pecans over top.
4. Place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake 40-50 minutes until the edges puff and the center is fairly firm, wiggling only a little when you nudge it. Filling will be browned. Let pie cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a scoop of bourbon whipped cream.
Bittersweet Chocolate Pecan Pie
Black Walnut Pie
Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie