Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without pecan pie. It is
considered a Southern specialty, which food historians believe was
invented by the French after they settled in New Orleans.
Pecan pie is made primarily of corn syrup or molasses, eggs and pecans. The sweet, gooey crunch of pecan pie is the perfect way to end a holiday meal.
The exact origin of pecan pie is difficult to trace. There are no recipes dated earlier than 1897, and it was not mentioned in popular cookbooks, such as Fannie Farmer and The Joy of Cooking, until after 1940.
The makers of Karo syrup state on their website that pecan pie was a sales executives wife's invention, while she was experimenting with new ways to use corn syrup. A product-based recipe appeared on the side of Karo jars in the 1930s. In some parts of the South, pecan pie is referred to as Karo Pie.
The pecan is the only tree nut that is indigenous to the South. Georgia has been the nation's largest producer since the late 1800s. The harvest season begins in October, which may be one reason pecan pie has become such a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dessert.
The quantity of nuts in a pecan pie is not crucial. Most recipes for a nine-inch pie suggest using one to one and a half cups of pecans. Some recipes suggest toasting the nuts before putting them in the pie, but that is not necessary, since they float the top of the filling and are generally nicely toasted by the time the pie is fully baked.
It is difficult to judge when a pecan pie is done. Recipes usually recommend baking from 40 to 45 minutes. Even if the pie appears to jiggle, it will firm up when it cools. Any type of syrup can be used.
Light syrup gives a milder flavor and dark gives a more intense caramel flavor. There have been many recipe variations through the years, but one very simple addition adds a depth of flavor. Just a few tablespoons of bourbon will give a distinctive taste to this irresistibly sweet dessert.
For even more decadence, top with bourbon-laced whipped cream.
Bourbon Pecan Pie
1 cup sugar 3 tablespoons butter, melted 1/2 cup dark corn syrup 3 large eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cups pecan halves 2 tablespoons good- quality bourbon 1 (9-inch) pie shell, unbaked
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans and bourbon and whisk until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Bourbon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar 1 tablespoon bourbon
Beat or whisk the cream, sugar and bourbon until soft peaks form.
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