I’ve been taking a trip down memory lane this past week. My sister needed my grandmother’s pecan pie recipe. Every other pecan pie she’s tried to make has flopped. No pie recipe came close to our Nanny’s pecan pie. Nanny was a pie whisperer for sure. When we visited Nanny and Granddaddy’s farm, there was always a pie cooling on the dryer down in the sleeping porch. Butterscotch, chocolate meringue, pumpkin, you name it.
|Recipe cards from my grandmothers and mother.|
But Ann wanted the pecan pie recipe and I have my mom’s recipe card box. I looked through all the cards and found recipes for apple pie, date-pecan pie, Nanny’s chocolate meringue pie, lemon icebox pie, strawberry fluff pie, pineapple pie, ancient jello pie recipes clipped from magazines but no pecan pie.
The news really disappointed my sister. As Ann said, “there were just too many recipes just in Nanny’s head.” You can see how we both took it.
|My sister is the crying three month old. I am the aghast toddler.|
I cried even longer. I found Nanny’s candy recipes made with Karo corn syrup, and all her cookie recipes. I’ve been trying to date her recipes. My books are set in WWII and I knew corn syrup was rationed then. I also found out the pecan pie recipe with corn syrup was supposedly invented during the Depression. Pecan pie and candy was around before then, just not with the infamous corn ingredient.
There are other syrups around. After reading a lot about arsenic in rice products, naturally occurring but still a concern, I choose to use cane syrup, homemade or not, most of the time.
I also made sure to use less syrup than called for and MORE pecans. Again, it’s called PECAN pie, not syrup pie! I know, I know. Some folks like it gooey! But I like it nutty.
Silly me. I thought I was a purist when it comes to pecan pie. I don’t like it with chocolate or rum, no raisins or sweet potatoes or coconut. There’s a reason pecan pie is called pecan pie!
But this week I’ve been revisiting more of the Little House books. Between Jan's post on The Long Winter and today's version and Virginia's post about bravely creating a new pie recipe, I started having visions of maple syrup and the inspiration to create a recipe the way my grandmother did.
In her head.
I already had maple in my head. But what could replace gooey corn syrup? Only maple syrup seemed a little strong. And then it hit me. I love using condensed milk in my pumpkin pie for its smooth texture and balance. What if....
Pecan Maple Cream Pie! I'd heard of maple cream but never made one. I'd heard of pecan pie made with maple syrup but not with the cream. To be on the safe side, to see if what I came up with would work, I searched the Internets far and wide. A lot of recipes were complicated or had cornstarch or heavy cream.
What was in the pantry? Now to the faux part, the easy makin' part. I would use condensed milk rather than sugar and cream.
I found an original pecan-pie-without-the-corn-syrup recipe on The Kitchn site. Thank you, Emma Christensen. and adapted it. I'm not as brave as my grandmother. I wanted it to at least have a chance of success.
Cakey Crust: I used an individual pack of Pamela’s baking mix (about a cup) and about three tablespoons cold butter to make my crust in the food processor. I wanted a crust just a little on the cakey side. Just pulse til combined. But you can use any gluten free crust as well.
Filling: Then I mixed up the ingredients for the filling. Oh, the smell. Oh, the wonder. Oh the prayers it would turn out. And it did! Thanks to a lot of inspiration from my grandmother and friends and blogs. Now to work up my courage to try to recreate Nanny's original pecan pie.
Pecan Maple Faux Cream Pie
1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ can 100% maple syrup (yes, I used the can rather than dirty a measuring cup.)
3 large eggs, whisked
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-2.5 cups halved pecans.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the condensed milk, maple syrup, eggs, salt, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth and mixed well.
Add pecans and stir again.
Pour pecan mixture over pie crust and spread evenly.
Place pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips, place in middle of the oven, and bake for 50-55 minutes.
The top crust of pecans should be deep brown and firm when tapped and interior is 200 degrees.
Cool and refrigerate. Cover lightly and use within a few days.
So, what recipe do you wish you had written down from a relative or friend or restaurant? Are you a pecan pie purist or pie purist for that matter?