A few days ago, the subject of pecan pie came up in comments on a blog post about a pecan tree that stood in my late mother's back yard in North Carolina. MA had grafted and planted the tree there in the 1970s. That tree died last winter, about a year after MA passed on. That seems to me to be an odd coincidence. Here is a photo of that pecan tree that I took in May 2003, when Walt and I spent a month in N.C. before flying off to start a new life in Saint-Aignan. My mother (Mary Allen) and Walt are in the picture.
Yesterday I decided to make a pecan pie following my mother's recipe. She and her sister self-published three cookbooks in the 1990s, focusing on local specialties. They probably sold 10,000 or more books in gift, souvenir, and museum shops up and down the North Carolina coast. Her pecan pie recipe is in the first of those three books (The Cooking Ladies' Best Sellers).
The problem I faced was that I didn't have any pecans left. I had brought back a lot of shelled-out pecans in 2018, but we finished them all last winter. Never mind — I happened to have a big bag of shelled walnut meats in the freezer, thanks to our friend C. and M. who live across the river from us here in the Loire Valley. They generously gave us a good quantity of cerneaux de noix (nut meats) as a gift a few months ago. Maybe I'm just chauvinistic, or maybe I'm just right, but I've always thought pecans have a sweeter, more pleasant taste than walnuts.
Mary Allen's Pecan Pie
Blend together thoroughly:
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo syrup*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Then stir in:
1½ cups pecans
Pour the mixture into:
1 unbaked pie shell
Bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for 50 to 55 minutes.
Test for doneness by sticking a skewer or the point of a clean knife into the filling.
When it comes out clean, the pie is cooked. Serve warm or cold.
* This pie is very sweet, and I don't even put as much sugar in the mixture as the recipe calls for. If you're not American, you might not know what Karo syrup is. It's light-colored, high-fructose corn syrup and Karo is the brand name. For substitutes, see this web page. Another note: I made the pie with pâte sablée, ("sugar crust") and you can get the recipe here.