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Two Favorite Pecan Pies

by on November 16, 2010 · 19 comments

I’m trying to nail down this year’s Thanksgiving menu and finding it difficult to choose between two favorite pecan pies: The one I discovered a few years ago or the one I’ve been making since I was 14.

At least I’ve narrowed it down to 2.

What these two pies have in common is browned butter. The pecans release their oils after being toasted, then soak up the flavor of the butter.

lastpecanpiepecans.jpg

The first pie is great for people who like pecans, but don’t care for traditional pecan pie’s strong dark corn syrup flavor. It has great flavor and always sets up nicely.  The cream tones down ths sugar, so don’t try to leave that out or the pie might be sweeter than you like.

lastpecanpieforblog.jpg

The Best Pecan Pie Yet

1 9 inch deep dish unbaked pie shell
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
4 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, cut up
3 large eggs
1 cup light corn syrup or Karo “brown sugar” corn syrup (both work equally well)
3/4 cup packed dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place pecans in a large skillet or saute pan and turn heat to medium high. Cook pecans for 2 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium, add butter to skillet with pecans, and “stir-fry” butter and pecans until butter melts and just barely starts to brown – take care not to burn. This should only take about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, cream, vanilla and salt. Remember just to whisk — don’t beat or add too much air to the mixture. Stir in melted butter/pecan mixture then pour filling into unbaked crust.

To catch any drippings, set a rimmed cookie sheet on the lower rack of the oven. Set the pie on the middle rack and bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is golden brown and appears set. The pie should still be slightly jiggly in center. Let cool completely at room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator to chill. I make it a day ahead, chill overnight, then bring to room temperature and slice.

This pie also freezes quite well.

The second pie is the one I’ve been making since I was 14. The dark syrup gives it more of a traditional Southern flavor, but it’s still not too strong.

I posted it a while back and got a few good reviews from other bakers, so hopefully you’ll take that as an endorsement if you are looking for a good pie recipe.

browned butter pecan pie

Old Favorite Browned Butter Pecan Pie

1 1/2cups pecan halves
1 (4 oz) stick butter (regular or unsalted)
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup (or use ½ dark plus ½ light)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 unbaked pie shell – use homemade or refrigerated

Lay 1 cup of the pecan halves on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F for about 6-8 minutes or until toasted. Let cool, then chop so that you have 1 cup chopped toasted pecans and about a half cup of pecan halves (these will be the border). (Note:  Alternatively, you can stir fry chopped pecans in butter just until the butter starts to turn brown.  Lately I’ve been doing them separately for this recipe, but both ways are fine).

Melt the butter in saucepan set over medium heat and cook it just until it starts to brown. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Pour in the semi-cooled browned butter.

Put the chopped pecans in the unbaked pie shell and pour the filling over the top. Use the remaining 1/2 cup pecan halves to make a border. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F. and bake for another 35-45 minutes** or until the sides are set but the center (about a 3 inch circle in the middle) is still jiggly. Remove from oven. Pie will set as it cools. Let it cool at room temperature for a few hours. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. You can keep it at room temperature, but it won’t be as stiff.

Note: Deep dish pies usually bake 400 for 10 minutes and 325 for 45 minutes while smaller pie tins usually take the original amount of 400 for 10 minutes and 325 for 35 minutes.

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Published on November 16, 2010

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol November 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Yum and yum! I want to make both, but I already have too many desserts lined up for Thanksgiving and there is just the 4 of us.

Camille November 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I love pecan pies! They are so sinful and delicious :)

RAM November 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Anna, do you only bake the 1 cup of pecans and not the 1/2 cup? Thanks!

Michelle November 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm

They both look beautiful. I have always preferred the light corn syrup to the dark too!

Claudia November 16, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Oooohhh! I’m gonna try browning the pecans in the butter this year. However, I’d be hard pressed to give up my favorite PP recipe, which I adapted from a recipe I found in the San Antonio Junior League cookbook “Flavors” when I was in my late teens or early 20s. It’s called LaNelle’s Pecan Pie. I tried to find the recipe online just now and wasn’t successful, but I did find (I kid you not…) LaNelle’s online obituary from last fall and it mentioned her wonderful pecan pies!!! Her recipe has pancake syrup which is unusual. I substitute about 1/8 c. bourbon for some of the syrup, add far more pecans than the recipe calls for, and the result is fabulous.

Gloria November 16, 2010 at 5:44 pm

You know my vote…..browned butter!!!! I have not tasted any better PPie.

Anna November 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Ram, yes. I leave the 1/2 cup that gets laid across the top untoasted. My reasoning for this was that the heat from the oven should be enough to toast the nuts on top, while the ones underneath (the 1 cup) would need to be toasted separately because they don’t get the same direct heat as the ones on top. I’m not sure it makes a different in the end, but my worry was the ones on top would get too brown if they’d been toasted twice.

Claudia, I would love to see that recipe!

Gloria, thanks again for the great reviews on the pie.

vanillasugar November 16, 2010 at 7:57 pm

love the 2nd one. browned butter has that great nutty-like taste. i put cheddar in my crust when making apple or pecan pies (no surprise there right lol)

Josie November 16, 2010 at 10:14 pm

This is a project I can totally get behind. How do you feel about adding chocolate chips?

Judy B. - Texas November 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Yum…hard for me to decide as well. I’ve never made a pp like any of the two recipes.

CLAUDIA – please share the recipe for LaNell’s Pecan Pie. Thanks!!!

dann November 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Que ricoo se ve! gracias por la receta!

Kristacular November 18, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Hi Anna! Krista here. long time no comment :( Had no internet :( Anywhooo. I think I’ll make the first one, Nerd wants to try PP again after a few years, but he’s scared about the crazy sweetness. :)

xoxo

Gloria November 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Don’t know if you are out there, but if you are I need help!! I think I browned my butter too much just now and I think it clarified? There is brown sludge and clear butter. Can I use it anyway or would you start over?

Claudia November 22, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Anna, I just emailed you the recipe for LaNelle’s Pecan Pie. Can you please forward it to Judy B.?

rotangus November 29, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Made your brown butter pecan pie for the holiday. Used a bit more pecans plus a handful of double dark chocolate chips in a home made butter crust. Found out at last minute that we didn’t have enough corn syrup so improvised using one third of the corn syrup quantity molasses, one third real maple syrup and one third light corn syrup. Was nervous about how it would turn out but it was swoon-wonderful. The bitter chocolate chips and molasses tamed the sweetness. The maple was very subtle. Best pecan pie I’ve ever had. Thanks for a new Thanksgiving family tradition!

Kristacular November 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Made the first pecan pie! Kyle still isn’t a fan (he says it’s too rich) but I thought it was to die for! The buttered pecans are genius!! Brought the rest over to share with the family I nanny for!

xoxo

CherylH October 10, 2011 at 6:33 am

Hello again, Anna! These are the recipes that introduced me to your site, and I am really looking forward to trying them. I LOVE brown butter but would never have thought to include it in a pecan pie! Fascinated to see how that will taste. I am also, however, on a mission to find all of the “best” pecan pie recipes I can, for a recipe comparison of my own, and so I am wondering if you would mind either posting here or emailing me Caudia’s recipe for the LaNelle’s Pecan Pie she mentions (if it is ok with her, of course). I’ve googled it but neither she nor anyone else has yet posted it on the web. I would be SO grateful!! Thanks so much, again, for your entertaining site and wonderful recipes. I’ll be stopping by often!

RJ December 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Anna,
I have been looking for a perfect pecan pie for years. I’d tasted them before, but I could never quite get mine to taste the same. Then I ran across your Browned Butter Pecan Pie recipe…and eureka, that was it! Browned butter! So I stole some ideas from your recipe and added them with mine and it was heavenly. But on the post from November 17, 2009 you said you’d never try another pecan pie but today I see the recipe with the cream and the “stir fried” pecans…is that your new favorite? Better than the original one you made? Now I’m going to have to add a few more inches to my waistline to try that recipe out as well. Thanks for posting these!

Anna December 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Good question! I always say I’ll never try another one, but I end up doing it anyway. That pie with the bit of cream in it is really good. I didn’t make it this year for Thanksgiving because no one wanted pecan pie, but I’m going to make it again for a luncheon next week. To answer your question (sort of), both pies are VERY good and the first one is my original, but the one with the cream is a little bit stiffer and slices neatly. My original slices neatly when chilled, but this second one holds together a tad better at room temperature. I’m afraid you’ll have to try it, though. Let me know what you think! I’ve really cut down on my pecan pie making because most of the people around me want cream pies these days.

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