129. Pecan Pie: Kicks Apple’s Butt Any Day

11 Jul

The next best thing to pumpkin pieHere in Seattle, pecan pie sightings of any variety are few and far between. Which is probably just as well seeing as restauranteurs here would likely substitute walnuts and toss in some rosemary or cumin for a creative twist. I have had a couple of decent renditions featuring chocolate and/or bourbon, but nothing comes close to the sticky indulgence I grew up with.

Now normally, I would think of pecan pie as a dessert served in the fall or winter months, but someone somewhere declared July 12 National Pecan Pie Day. Who am I to argue? It’s not like I would turn down a piece of pecan pie anytime, anywhere. Wait! I should amend that:

Pecan pie’s not worth the calories if it’s:
Sold in convenience stores
Found in your grocer’s freezer
Served cold
Made with Splenda (yes, I realize this means fewer calories–still not worth it.)

Also, I’d steer clear of any pecan pie that calls to mind the word “revamped.” It’s vamped enough! Don’t mess with perfection.

41LbM077IQL.01._SR300,300_Folks might argue with me, but I think the secret to perfect pecan pie is corn syrup, or Karo as we say in the South. Does another brand exist? If so, I’ve never noticed. Having not made a pecan pie in years, I’m not sure which side to take in the light vs. dark debate. Anybody care to weigh in?

When it comes to pecans, you’ll want to use the best you can find, seeing as they’re the star. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy a 10 pound bag from the roadside stand I encountered off I-95 in Georgia. But seeing as I had no room in my luggage or freezer at home, it’s just as well. Not really, but still.

World's Largest Pecan Pie MuralIf you already know how to make perfect pie crust, skip ahead to the next paragraph. Ok, now that it’s just us, I’ll admit that I’m still struggling with this fickle beast and have been known to use those Pillsbury ones next to the heat-up cookies. This will do in a pinch. Just don’t resort to the frozen kind in the tin; they are inedible. Also, while a graham cracker crust IS mighty easy, it will never work for a pecan pie. Probably.

The first time I made a pecan pie, I was amazed to discover that you can mix the nuts in with the sticky goo and they’ll rise to the top. Note: This is probably not the method Martha Stewart prefers. And for the love of all that is tasty, leave those pecans whole (or, technically, half). Save the pieces for brownies, cookies, banana bread, whatnot.

Folks in the Holloway family are devout dessert eaters, which is why my nephew Ben has been permanently barred from carrying sweets to the table. He’s 20-something now and could most likely be trusted, but no. In the beginning, there was carrot cake. “Was” being the operative word.

Due to popular demand, nearly every family occasion featured his mom’s delectable two-layer cake piled high with just-tangy-enough cream cheese frosting. Now, the distance from my parent’s den to the dining room being minimal, someone (I’m not naming names only because I don’t remember) allowed this hyper eight-year-old boy-child to carry in the cake. He might’ve made it three or four skipping steps before…plop! Shrieks of horror, cries of despair, there might have even been cursing (there was most definitely cursing). Then my mom and Kay salvaged what they could, put it back on the plate, and promptly set about serving it. I’m not ashamed to tell y’all that not a one of us gave a second thought to digging in. Not even our dinner guest, Mary Bess, who might as well be family. If Kay ever opened a bakery, the tagline could be “Floor Lickin’ Good.”

Texas Pecan pieHow does that story relate to pecan pie? Well, cut to Thanksgiving dinner at Mike and Kay’s with a bunch of no longer hungry but still-wanting-something-sweet Holloways. (That’s generally how we roll). Once again, someone allowed Ben to carry in dessert. Only this time, he decided to put the pecan pie on his head. On. His. HEAD. Well, you don’t need me to tell you what happened. And, yes, we ate that off the floor, too. BUT, we finally learned our lesson.

I’ll leave y’all with another family recipe that’s characteristically short and exceptionally sweet. Remember, handle with care.

Pecan Pie (Kay)
1 cup white Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt

Mix ingredients. Bake in pie crust at 325 for 50 minutes.

What’s your secret to perfect pie crust? And have you ever eaten dessert off the floor?

Photo credits from Flickr Creative Commons: Pecan pie by ldrose, World’s Largest by kb35, and Texas pecan pie by texascooking.

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15 Responses to “129. Pecan Pie: Kicks Apple’s Butt Any Day”

  1. msshe July 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I ditto everything you say about southern “real” pecan pies. And double ditto using Karo syrup. Sheila

  2. msshe July 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Reblogged this on mykentuckyliving and commented:
    I love to read Kim Holloway. She has a wonderful southern sense of humor….and what she says about pecan pie is true! Here is her recipe and her story. . Enjoy. Mssheilasu

    • Kim Holloway July 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

      msshe, thanks for the kind words and for sharing my post with your readers!

      • msshe July 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        I love reading your posts. Most of the time I am nodding “yes” because I understand your southern viewpoint. I especially liked your post on funeral food too. Keep ‘me coming! (Sheila, aka Msshe) from Mykentuckyliving.
        P.S. I hope you don’t mind my sharing your link with others…as I know my southern and northern friends will get a chuckle whether it is about southern women, families, food, etc.

        • Kim Holloway July 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

          Sheila, I’m delighted that you enjoy my posts! Feel free to share my link with everybody you know!!

  3. Todd July 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    This is absolutely true. My wife’s from the Midwest and insists on fruit pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I also get a pecan pie. Fun fact: Pecan pie-pecans+walnuts+1 cup of chocolate chips+1 tablespoon of bourbon=Derby pie

    • Kim Holloway July 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      Todd, my sister’s late mother-in-law was from Iowa. At Thanksgiving, she’d usually bring two types of pumpkin pie and a crudité platter, bless her heart. I’m all for adding in the chocolate chips and bourbon, but I draw the line at walnuts. No Derby pie for me!

  4. Sabrina July 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    No, I never eaten dessert off the floor. But once a bottle of wine broke in my car’s floorboard & I was “tempted” to get a straw & drink it right off the floorboard. It had been longer than 3 seconds (the rule) so I didn’t. Wish I had of…it was REALLY good wine!!!

    Ha!

    Love me some “pah-con” pie, tho!!
    How do you say it? Seems every southerner says it differently!!

    • Kim Holloway July 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Sabrina, HA! Love your temptation story! All my friends and relations from MS are “puh-con” people. I can’t stand the sound of the word “pee-can”!

  5. carlanthonyonline.com July 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Pecan pie is number one for sure – I’ve especially loved a Virginia recipe of it which uses molasses instead of corn syrup – and it adds to the sensation of a fantastic nut flavor. Though a born, bred and proud New Yorker, where individuals have just as many manners as other regions, no regional American food has ever surpassed traditional southern food for me. I will say that even apart from being an Empire State native myself, an intensely cinnamon apple pie using tart but firm McIntosh (yup, Macs for pie) with a slice of extra sharp cheddar is as equally phenomenal an experience….though time with pecan pie outlasts all others – I never tire of its taste in all variations. On a very promising final note: a San Francisco coffeeshop owner, the hippest of the hip, clued me in on some news that should raise hope in the south – and everywhere else. The nearly vanished presence of the once-ubiquitous Corn Muffin is poised for a big return, riding the comeback wave of mac-and-cheese. So he said. Time to buy stock in Jiffy Cornbread mix?

    • Kim Holloway July 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

      Carl Anthony, replacing corn syrup with molasses–now there’s an idea that’s worth exploring! One of my favorite Seattle afternoon snacks is a gala apple (organic, of course) with a hunk of Beecher’s flagship cheddar cheese. I’m thinking the cheese would be way better atop a slice of apple pie. Not sure about the corn muffin comeback. Folks in Seattle are just now discovering biscuits. 🙂

  6. DessertForTwo July 13, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    I so so so agree–if it’s bought in the freezer section, it’s awful. It’s really a simple pie to make, in my opinion. And it cannot be improved upon–where else can you get crunchy, toasted nuts PLUS custard in a pie shell. Pecan pie is pure magic!!!

    Thanks for the link in your sidebar 🙂

  7. LindseyB September 30, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    It’s never occurred to me to use anything other than Karo syrup! But I feel pretty strongly that if you use light Karo, you should use brown sugar – and if you have to use white sugar then you should use dark Karo. There’s a depth there that I just don’t think you can get with white sugar + white syrup.

  8. Boo Rhodes February 10, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

    Now I know where my mother gets all of these wonderful Thanksgiving dishes and other fried things she makes. She has never really enlightened me on a lot of things, perhaps because we never really got the chance to due to one thing or another (mainly work). I don’t know. I’m going to show her this blog though, she’ll love it.

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