Alex has made pecan pie several times. She made them in different sizes — large, medium, small. The largest she ever baked we brought to a family get-together.
The rest, we feasted on at home. There is no one in the family who doesn’t love pecan pie. These days, however, we prefer pecan tart over pie. Less cloying. Less sugar per slice.
It’s amusing though that our introduction to this American dessert came by way of a bad experience. Years ago, KFC introduced mini pies in its menu and mini pecan pies was among them. We tried all, none was good and it was doubtful if the mini pecan pies had real pecans in them at all.
Well, we don’t have to rely on store-bought pecan pie any more. Alex’s version has turned this dessert into a regular holiday fare for us. We’re likely to ask her to bake pecan tarts again before we greet the new year.
Where does pecan pie come from anyway?
The most accepted version of its history is that it was invented in the American South. Who exactly came up with the first recipe is not clear.
Pecans have been grown by Native Americans for thousands of years and it has been a part of their diet for just as long. The recipe for pecan pie is not attributed to them though. Some say the French settlers in Louisiana were the first to make it. The first published recipe came out in 1898 in a church charity cookbook. The contributor? A woman from Texas.
Others say pecan pie is a modern dessert whose popularity coincides with the rise of Karo corn syrup after a Karo salesman’s wife baked pecan pie with Karo.
The curious thing is that not everyone believes that corn syrup is essential to pecan pie. There are cooks who prefer maple syrup while there are others opt for molasses.
As you may have guessed at this point, there is more than one way to bake pecan pie. The addition of chocolate, bourbon, whiskey, pumpkin, apples and salted caramel make delicious variations. Alex has always made pecan pie the old-fashioned way with corn syrup, butter, eggs and sugar. The only addition is rum.
Why is pecan pie such a popular holiday dessert in the United States? Well, that’s a matter of history rather than any real association between pecans and the colder months of the year.
Here at home, we like pecan tart because it is something that can be baked well ahead of time and kept in the freezer until needed.