Epicurious's Caramel Nut Tart (originally from Gourmet) is incredibly good. It has nuts, a caramel base made from brown sugar, butter, and honey (!), and chocolate drizzled over the top. I made it at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas last year, and people ooohed, ahhed, abandoned their South Beach diets, emailed me later for the recipe, etc. (My aunt, who is a professional chef, said to my mother, on tasting it, "My God, I didn't realize Sarah could COOK!") It calls for half pecans and half walnuts, but you could do it with all pecans.
The Greystone Bakery Cookbook has a fantastic pecan tart that I vastly prefer to Southern pecan pies. Lots of pecans, a great sweet filling and a crust that I dcould it by iteseld.
The reason I love this is that the pecans are present all the way through. I've had too many episodes with Southern pies where the filling is some monstrosity of corn syrup and whatnot, with one small layer of pecans on top.
This is South Carolina in origin. It is not the traditional pecan pie (which is very simple w/ butter, sugar, eggs, corn syrup and lots of pecans), but is very nice served along side one as a variation. My Mom's note on the recipe card says "this one will make your reputation". I wouldn't go THAT far, but it is very, very good.
Angel Pecan Pie
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup cream
½ tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp. sugar
Whip egg whites until it makes very soft peaks, add sugar slowly until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks. Fold in vanilla, cracker crumbs, and 1 cup pecans. Fill 8 inch pie pan, pushing up the sides of the pan with a spoon to form a crust. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. When crust is cool, fill w/ whipped, sweetened and flavored cream, sprinkle w/ remaining ½ cup pecans.
Note: This is my Moms recipe. Since my pie plates are all 9 and since I prefer to use less cream, I make 1 ½ recipes, place in a 9 pan, and use about ½ the cream.
this is much like my mom's recipe for "mystery pie" except hers uses ritz cracker crumbs...the combo of salty and sweet is yummy! we also usually serve with raspberry or strawberry sauce ( or whole berries)alongside. definitely not what i would call pecan pie, but good!
i discovered last t-day that any old pecan pie recipe reaches a new level if you merely toast the pecans first...duh, why didn't i think of that before?
I love the following recipe because it allows one to create one's own idea of the perfect pecan pie. And it uses golden syrup instead of corn syrup - a huge improvement, I think.
The following recipe is from John Thornes book Outlaw Cook and is preceded by several pages on his search for the perfect pecan pie. He concluded that because the recipe is so simple it is amenable to infinite variation and all you can do is hone it to your own palate. He also spent a great deal of time and energy researching pre-corn syrup sugars, which 19th century recipes would have used, which is how he ended up using golden syrup.
Fine-tuning your pecan pie:
A little cream (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) mixed into a pecan pie filling before baking gives it a richer, lighter texture.
For a sweeter, lighter pie: add more sugar and use fewer pecans; for a denser, less sweet pie: add more pecans and use less sugar.
The buttery flavour and the lard-induced flakiness of a butter and lard crust make it the perfect one for a perfect pecan pie. And a Southern pecan pie authority I know suggests that you roll out the dough a little thicker than usual; a thick, richly shortened crust provides an appetizing balance to the sweetness of the filling.
MY PECAN PIE
1 well-packed cup full-flavoured brown sugar
Scant 2/3 cup golden syrup
2 T dark rum
4 T butter
1/4 t salt
2 cups broken pecan meats
9-inch unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large saucepan, heat the brown sugar, golden syrup and butter to the boiling point. Stirring constantly and scraping back any foam that clings to the side of the pan, let this mixture boil for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool while, in a separate bowl, you beat the eggs until creamy.
When the boiled syrup has cooled, beat in the eggs, salt and pecans. Pour into the unbaked pie shell and bake for about 50 minutes.
Golden syrup is made from cane sugar and has a wonderful flavour. It is also English, but from what I've seen on this site it is readily available in the U.S. You could try googling Tate & Lyle or Lyle's.
What I posted is just a part of John Thorne's writing on pecan pie, if you can get a hold of Outlaw Cook or find it online it's really worth reading.
I'm traveling right now and can't recall it from memory, but I have a fab bourbon pecan pie recipe. Email me and I'll get it for you. (Gaylegrindley@hotmail.com)
BTW, I'm from Louisiana, in AZ now and my pies are all the rage all fall long. And man, they're easy to make!