Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pecan Pie

I have been trying to compile some of my grandmothers', great-grandmothers', aunts', and great-aunts', recipes over the past few years so that we have as many family favorite recipes preserved as possible.  I feel blessed to have some incredible cooks in my family and really want to make sure that their special dishes are preserved to be enjoyed for many more generations.  Thankfully, the women in my family were generous in sharing recipes so it usually only takes a phone call or two to track down what you are looking for.

However, the one problem I've run into is a little trouble with translation.  This especially happens when recipes are written in someone's "shorthand", when the person was writing the recipe down by memory and leaves out a key ingredient-- like eggs, or where the recipe was written 50 or 60 years ago in vernacular that I am not familiar with now in 2011.  For instance, a lot of old Southern recipes seem to call for "sweet milk" when they really mean just regular milk, or they'll call for "3 sticks of oleo" which was a common term for margarine.  So, now I know, just swap these out for milk and butter and crisis averted.  It gets even harrier when, like the other day, I was reading one of my Grandmother's recipe cards, and the recipe for a cake filling called for "butter the size of an egg." Huh? This can, and has, made for some disastrous baking attempts as I try to wade through some of these old-time recipes.

My Grandmother makes the greatest pecan pie.  She is known for it.  There are many many ways to make pecan pie but hers is my favorite.  You can use light Karo syrup or dark Karo syrup.  You can cook the syrup and pour it over your pecans, like a caramel-- you get the picture.  My Grandmother's recipe is super easy and doesn't require a cooked syrup prior to baking which I love. Her version uses light Karo syrup, my particular favorite. I did have to make this 2 times to work out the kinks so the recipe I'm posting is with my edits.  My Grandmother's recipe calls for 1/4 tsp. of salt but she uses salted butter in her baking, and I use unsalted, so I increased the salt amount for my recipe.  I also found that while you must beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy it is important to NOT overbeat the eggs in the step where you mix them in with the vanilla and Karo.  You don't want to mix in a lot of froth and bubbles which can keep your filling from setting.

Finally, You can use the pie crust of your choice.  I've shared my favorite homemade pie crust before and linked to it below.  In the pictures, I used a refrigerated pie crust because I was running short on time.  This is a very easy pie to make and a good option for a Thanksgiving dessert.  There's nothing better than pecan pie and some whipped cream on Thanksgiving!

My Grandmother's Pecan Pie


1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light Karo syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans
Pecan halves to garnish top of pie
Unbaked pie shell.  My favorite recipe for pie crust is here.
egg white, mixed with a little water to brush on pie crust.

Prepare a single pie crust in a 9 or 10-inch pie pan.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter in a mixing bowl.  Add sugar and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add Karo syrup, salt, vanilla and then eggs.  Mix  until just combined, but do not over-mix or allow to become frothy.  Add pecans.  Pour mixture in pie crust. Line the entire top of pie with pecan halves in a decorative pattern. Brush crust with egg wash.  Bake on lower shelf in the oven at 350 for 40-45 minutes


  1. Stunning pie - pecan is probably one of my all-time favorites and usually gets a front row seat at the Holiday table :-)
    The Dude's family has a traditional holiday bread recipe that everyone clamors over. I remember the first few times I tried to make it using their "shorthand" it was an absolute nightmare. I asked if there was a decoder ring that needed to go along with the recipe... Finally, I just gave up trying to follow the directions & made my own adjustments until I was able to replicate someone else's results.
    Have a great weekend!

  2. This looks fantastic! My sister has requested a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, so I may have to give this a try as well.

  3. This is a beautiful dad loves pecan pie. Beautiful post Ryan!

  4. What a gorgeous pie! I have so many "shorthand" recipes too! I started my blog with the intention of making our old family recipes, but that is easier said than done.

  5. Fantastic pics! Also this is a great way of honoring your grandmother's talent in the kitchen. The tip about the "froth" is good to know. Your pie looks perfect as well as delicious.

  6. I love keeping my mother's and grandmothers' recipes. I wonder if my daughters (and grandchildren) will have as many problems deciphering my recipes!

  7. that is one beautiful pie - I may well be making this for Thanksgiving - SO pretty - the time you took placing the pecans makes it really lovely.
    Mary x

  8. Ryan, That is one beautiful pecan pie! And how special to have your grandmothers recipe. My mom was always known for her apple pie and my daughter has picked up her tradition! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  9. Pecan pie is a favorite and there is nothing better than a family recipe. I will have to try this and cut in in half to make a smaller pie because unfortunately my family doesn't share my love for it (it's my Southern roots). Thanks for sharing your grandmother's recipe!

  10. I love recipes from my grandmother and great grandmother...i have some of their cookbooks with their handwritten notes...many of their recipes are my "go to" recipes. Your pie is perfect and beautiful. I'm dreaming about baking a similar one for Thanksgiving. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  11. Your grandmother's recipe is simply wonderful. Family recipes are so special...I cook/bake my grandma's pretty often. You're right though, the translation can get a bit tricky. Anyways, this pie is stunning and great presentation!

  12. I've never tried pecan pies (because I'm mildly allergic to nuts) but this pie looks absolutely gorgeous! I wish I eat a slice.

  13. This looks really, really good! Especially given the fact that I asked my husband the other day (while we were two coats in on a four coat lounge painting mission):
    What food would you eat if we had Star Trek style replicators?

    His answer: Pecan pie :-)

  14. Ryan your pie looks AMAZING! I knew you were always great at pies :)

  15. Ryan, this looks absolutely perfect. I always add Bourbon to my pecan pie - so Southern. I nominated you for The Liebster Award - congrats!

  16. Made this over Christmas for my mom- who is a Pecan Pie LOVER! She said it was the BEST Pecan Pie she has ever had!!

    It was delicious!

    Thanks for another great one!!



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