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 two, so it’s safe to say these are my two favorite pecan pies.
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.
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 milder flavor and always sets up nicely. The cream tones down the sugar, so don’t try to leave that out or the pie might be sweeter than you like.
- 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. It’s a very rich pie with a lot of butter, so refrigerating it for a bit helps it set up.
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.
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup pecan halves, unchopped to be used as border
- 1 (4 oz) stick butter (regular or unsalted), cut into chunks
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 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
- Put the 1 cup of chopped pecans in a dry skillet and turn heat to medium. Heat the pecans, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes..
- Add the butter and continue to cook the two together until butter just starts to brown and nuts are aromatic. Remove from heat.
- Whisk the eggs lightly in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Pour in the semi-cooled brown butter and pecan mixture.
- Use the remaining 1/2 cup pecan halves to make a border.
- Set on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any overflow).
- Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 35-45 minutes (most likely it will be 45 if using a glass pie dish) 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.