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A less-sweet pecan pie

w
windin Oct 10, 2013 03:50 PM

When I was growing up, we got to choose our birthday dinner. We were a 'pie' family, rather than cake lovers. Now that I'm (much) older, I still have access to yummy pecan halves. But I must confess, the recipe on the back of the Karo Dark syrup bottle is too flippin' sweet. Ouch! makes my teeth hurt. Can anyone point me towards an updated recipe? Still the pecans, caramelly goodness(much reduced) of the middle goo, and pie crust. I'm 57 on Nov 23 and I'd love to have a slice of updated heaven. Thanks in advance.

  1. Wtg2Retire Dec 15, 2013 02:29 PM

    Here is the recipe I have used for many, many years. It has less sugar in it than most recipes.

    Pecan Pie

    My friend gave me this recipe in the very, very early l960s. I have used it ever since.

    1/2 cup sugar
    1T sifted flour
    Dash salt
    1/2 cup butter
    3 eggs
    1 cup white Karo syrup
    1 t vanilla
    1 1/2 cups pecans

    Mix sugar, salt and flour thoroughly. Cream butter with sugar mixture. Add Karo and eggs and beat. Add pecans. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and bake for another 45 minutes.

    1. almond tree Nov 24, 2013 07:58 PM

      So how was the big day? Did you get the pecan heaven you were dreaming of?

      1. n
        ndchef Nov 24, 2013 04:46 PM

        maybe this recipe is the answer - bacon to balance the sweetness of the syrup!

        http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/ba...

        1. e
          EvaB Nov 1, 2013 12:37 PM

          I use my currant tart recipe, which is brown sugar, 1 egg, and melted butter, you add the cup of dried currants, and bake, Exact recipe as copied over the phone with my mother, is:
          pie crust (we use tenderflake lard recipe) 1 cup of dried currants, 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed) 1/4 cup melted butter 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla (or flavouring of your choice) sugar vanilla, and eggs into the bowl, beat until well mixed, add the currants and then butter, fill the raw pastry cups, bake 35 min at 350 F or if using mini muffin tins about 20 minutes. I actually bake them at 450 F for 15-20 minutes instead. The filling is not runny, and I've substituted the currants with pecans and placed a couple of pecan halves on top. This will make 24 regular tarts 20 in my mother's cast iron muffin pan, and easily 30 or more mini tarts. I don't like corn syrup and won't use it. But these taste good, the filling is sort of gooey and solid but tasty and if you toast the nuts before chopping they are even better, more flavour but watch carefully. You can also use Watkins Butter Pecan flavouring if you are so lucky as to have some, this makes the pecan flavour more intense, you can add it with the vanilla or in place of!

          1. c
            condie Nov 1, 2013 12:37 PM

            Most of the responders assumed that we were discussing pecan pie - the filling of which is almost candy. Caramelized pecans (with less than the recipe amount of sweetner), however makes a wonderful topping for pumpkin and sweet potato pie.

            1 Reply
            1. re: condie
              sunshine842 Nov 1, 2013 07:25 PM

              ...maybe the title of "less-sweet pecan pie" has led someone to that assumption? Just sayin'....

            2. paulj Nov 1, 2013 11:33 AM

              My daughter in law made a combination chess, pumpkin and pecan pie for Thanksgiving (last year) that was quite good. Rich without being overly sweet.

              My favorite when growing up was a sour cream raisin pie, that kind that uses an egg and sour cream custard with lots of raisins. My mom liked it as a substitute for the pecans which she couldn't often get.

              1. c
                cathyeats Nov 1, 2013 11:30 AM

                The Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie from Recipe Renovator is intriguing. Sweetened only with dates. I would do a regular crust instead of the suggested gluten free one. That's just me. http://reciperenovator.com/special-di...

                1. r
                  rasputina Nov 1, 2013 09:40 AM

                  KAF Yankee pecan pie recipe, using grade B maple syrup, I do not add the maple extract, it doesn't need it IMO.

                  It's my all time favorite and I've made and eaten many a pecan pie, using different sweeteners. I'm personally not a fan of pecan pie made with cane syrup ( I used Steen's).

                  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe...

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: rasputina
                    KaimukiMan Nov 1, 2013 10:10 AM

                    wow, i have enough trouble finding 'real'/table grade maple syrup, no idea where I'd find "grade b"

                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                      r
                      rasputina Nov 1, 2013 12:05 PM

                      Amazon, Whole Foods, Sprouts, maybe your local health food store, probably Trader Joes, if you are in maple tapping region a local sugarer ( I'm not), King Arthur Flour ( I've never bought theirs)

                      1. re: rasputina
                        m
                        MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 12:45 PM

                        I've never seen Grade B syrup at either Whole Foods or TJ in NYC.

                        1. re: MacGuffin
                          o
                          ocres Nov 1, 2013 03:00 PM

                          You need to find some because the flavor is superior. I get Whole Foods Grade B Maple Syrup that comes in a large 32 oz plastic jug. TJ also has it but I think it's in a glass container and half the size. I read in a blog somewhere that they are going to eliminate Grade A vs. B and refer them as amber, dark, very dark, etc.; but I haven't seen any changes yet. Best is from a farm that you trust. Good luck finding some!

                          1. re: MacGuffin
                            r
                            rasputina Nov 1, 2013 03:16 PM

                            Whole Foods the the only place I've bought it for years, in 3 different states. I can't imagine they wouldn't have it in NYC. It's by the other maple syrups, their 365 brand comes in light and dark grade A and grade B.

                            1. re: rasputina
                              m
                              MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 03:40 PM

                              I guess I missed it but then I buy my MS from a Vermont producer at our local Green Market anyway. I buy both B and "Fancy." I like the extremes. :)

                            2. re: MacGuffin
                              Will Owen Nov 1, 2013 04:11 PM

                              MacGuffin, that is extremely weird, because NYC is right next to Maple Syrup Country and L.A. is emphatically not, but the TJs here do have Grade B! You have to look closely, because there are three or more different Grade A offerings and just one Grade B here.

                              1. re: Will Owen
                                m
                                MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 04:39 PM

                                I'll have a look. Heaven knows I'm in TJ enough.

                                1. re: MacGuffin
                                  n
                                  ndchef Nov 2, 2013 02:04 PM

                                  it's in a tall glass bottle, and the grade B is in small letters

                                  1. re: ndchef
                                    firecooked Nov 3, 2013 02:58 PM

                                    They also have it in a 32 oz plastic jug.

                              2. re: MacGuffin
                                b
                                blaireso Nov 3, 2013 03:10 PM

                                TJ in Las Vegas sells Grade B maple syrup in large bottles (liter size?) for about $13-14. Ask for it, maybe they'll get it for you.

                                1. re: blaireso
                                  s
                                  sandylc Nov 3, 2013 04:49 PM

                                  We pay about $6.29 a pound for grade B in bulk at our natural foods co-op.

                                  1. re: blaireso
                                    m
                                    MacGuffin Nov 4, 2013 01:42 PM

                                    I don't need to ask TJ to get it for me because I can pretty much get it whenever I want straight from a Vermont producer who's at our local Greenmarket every week; they also stock the ultra-light "Fancy" grade I love as much as the "B." And I was in the Brooklyn TJ today and made it a point to look. Lots of "A," no "B."

                              3. re: KaimukiMan
                                c
                                condie Nov 1, 2013 12:23 PM

                                Maple syrup is by itself a subject for discussion. There are many producer sources from which to order. I buy a gallon every year or so from Branon Family Maple Orchards in Vermont: www.branonmaple.com

                            3. m
                              mar52 Nov 1, 2013 09:37 AM

                              Not traditional, but quite good. Try making it in a quiche dish so it doesn't try to be traditional:

                              BUTTERMILK PECAN PIE

                              3 eggs
                              1 1/3 cup sugar
                              2 T flour
                              8 T SALTED Butter, melted
                              1/4 cup buttermilk
                              1 tsp vanilla
                              1 cup pecan pieces (chopped)
                              1 -- 10-inch unbaked pie crust

                              Preheat oven to 275º

                              Beat eggs with a whisk. Add sugar and flour, beat well. Add melted buter, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir well.

                              Sprinkle pecans evenly into crust, pour in egg mixture.

                              Bake about 1 hour or until golden brown and set.

                              1. m
                                MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 06:31 AM

                                Happy Birthday in advance! :)

                                Many years ago, I ordered pecan pie in Souen, a macrobiotic restaurant here in NYC (it's still there) and I still remember that it was the best pecan pie I've ever had. I suspect that one of the ingredients was brown rice syrup, since it's a popular sweetener in macrobiotic cooking. The filling was just sweet enough and the sweetness was somehow "softer" than what one would expect of pecan pie and although it wasn't as firm as that of conventional pecan pie, it was by no means runny. The crust was great, too. It was undoubtedly whole wheat (maybe pastry flour?) and probably used oil instead of a solid fat.

                                1. roxlet Oct 23, 2013 04:30 AM

                                  Like other posters here, I use more nuts, but I do the following: I mix up the filling with the chopped pecans, add the filling to the crust, and then top with pecan halves placed on top in a decorative manner. The pie seems less sweet because of all the pecans, and it's really pretty too!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: roxlet
                                    KaimukiMan Nov 1, 2013 10:07 AM

                                    I do the same roxlet. I take a bag of pecans chop about half of them and pour the wholes and pieces into the pie shell (the pieces fill up the voids, but you can just dump the bag right in.) Then I pour the "filling" over the nuts and top that with a layer of neatly placed nuts. To me the "goo" is like syrup on pancakes, it's not the primary flavor, it just compliments the base - in this case the pecans. Much less sweet, much more pecan flavor.
                                    I think this year I'll try it with the golden syrup or rice syrup and less or no molasses. I like the molasses, but one family member doesn't.

                                  2. c oliver Oct 17, 2013 06:42 PM

                                    https://virginiawillis.wordpress.com/...

                                    Scroll down to her pecan pie recipe. Her "Bon Appetit Y'all" is my bible to Southern cooking...and I'm a Southerner.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: c oliver
                                      alkapal Oct 18, 2013 01:42 AM

                                      interesting to see that her recipe is the karo recipe with double the nuts, then divided between two pie crusts instead of one.

                                      1. re: alkapal
                                        j
                                        julesrules Oct 22, 2013 09:36 AM

                                        That sound about right... more nuts and crust, less goo. I hate those grocery store pies that are just gelatinous goo with a layer of pecans! And I have a healthy sweet tooth. But nuttier pie is just better.

                                        1. re: julesrules
                                          almond tree Oct 22, 2013 11:54 AM

                                          If the goo is properly made, it should be more custardy than gelatinous, not toothachingly sweet ... with subtle flavors of brown sugar and vanilla that complement the pecans without ovepwoering them.

                                          1. re: almond tree
                                            j
                                            julesrules Oct 22, 2013 06:10 PM

                                            I'm talking about grocery store, lowest-quality pie here. The goo is not good.
                                            Goo can be good, but I still look for a high ratio of nuts.

                                    2. Will Owen Oct 17, 2013 06:10 PM

                                      I offered a recipe by John Thorne, but the mods pulled it and scolded me, as was only right. So let me just say that if you can find a copy of his "Outlaw Cook," look up Pecan Pie and you will see an account of his search for one that won't make your teeth fly out of your mouth, and an accompanying recipe. Hint: it does NOT contain Karo, nor any corn syrup. He recommends Lyle's Golden Syrup; I found an American cane syrup called ALAGA, but someone else suggested Steen's. Both Southern products.

                                      9 Replies
                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                        alkapal Oct 18, 2013 01:44 AM

                                        how about this, will owen, chow itself has the "adapted" recipe right here on this site! http://www.chow.com/recipes/29151-joh...

                                        1. re: alkapal
                                          Will Owen Dec 14, 2013 05:26 PM

                                          That's either funny or tragic, can't figure which; JT developed his recipe specifically as an ALTERNATIVE to corn syrup, and they've adapted it with corn syrup as a suggestion.

                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                            paulj Dec 15, 2013 01:16 PM

                                            The main differences:
                                            Karo 1c syrup v 2/3c JT
                                            same amount of sugar (JT uses brown)
                                            4T butter JT v 2
                                            8 oz pecan JT v 6

                                            The JT one might taste nuttier and richer, but it appears to be about as sweet (sugar has more sweetening power than corn syrup).

                                            1. re: paulj
                                              sunshine842 Dec 15, 2013 01:53 PM

                                              but it tastes different --white sugar does not taste the same as as brown sugar, which does not taste the same as corn syrup, which does not taste like cane syrup, which does not taste like agave, which does not taste like.....ad infinitum.

                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                Will Owen Dec 15, 2013 02:12 PM

                                                Exactly, and thanks for clarifying. Corn syrup has sweetness but not much flavor, so that sweetness is what jumps out at us. Cane syrup and brown sugar have a distinct flavor, strong and rich enough to round off their sweetness, and thus diminish its domination.

                                                Some people do like a level of sweetness I don't, and they can and should hang in there with Karo. As we know, this thread was started by someone in the low-sweetness camp looking for a good less-sweet recipe, and this is I think best pursued by finding alternatives to Karo.

                                                1. re: Will Owen
                                                  sunshine842 Dec 15, 2013 02:23 PM

                                                  totally agree...I used to eat pecan pie to be polite, but I didn't really care for it until I was making a pecan pie for a friend's party (she asked me to bring it) and I grabbed a bottle of cane syrup (and Myer's rum instead of vanilla....)

                                                  Epiphany.

                                                  The older I get, the less I can even manage to eat the cloyingly-sweet stuff, especially if it has little other flavor.

                                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                                    m
                                                    MacGuffin Dec 16, 2013 06:26 AM

                                                    Corn syrup also helps to keep things moist, I'm going to guess better than most other syrups, in addition to not contributing to a dessert's flavor profile. I don't so much find it ultra-sweet (I think honey and blue agave syrup are much sweeter) as blandly sweet. I keep a bottle of Wholesome Sweeteners corn syrup (it's vanilla-flavored) on hand because a recipe occasionally calls for it.

                                          2. re: Will Owen
                                            l
                                            lisaonthecape Nov 1, 2013 03:45 PM

                                            Rose Levy Beranbaum also has a pecan pie recipe in her Pie and Pastry Bible that uses Lyle's Golden Syrup. I make these pies every year for a fundraiser at our church, and they sell out fast.

                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                              m
                                              MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 04:32 PM

                                              I've seen Lyle's for sale since I was a kid growing up in Detroit and still have no problem getting it but it's not cane syrup per se. I think you can pretty much sub one for the other, though.

                                            2. Veggo Oct 17, 2013 05:11 PM

                                              The first two I made were with equal quantities of Karo syrup and molasses, and they sucked.

                                              1. alkapal Oct 14, 2013 05:45 AM

                                                i've made the pies with light karo, never dark.

                                                i can't think cane syrup would be good in pecan pie, as it is a bit overwhelming -- actually strong and somewhat bitter -- in flavor (at least the cane syrup i grew up with in s.w. florida).

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: alkapal
                                                  sunshine842 Oct 14, 2013 06:55 PM

                                                  Cane syrup is *stellar* in pecan pie -- not the slightest bit overwhelming, with a clean, non-gloppy mouthfeel.

                                                  Using dark rum instead of vanilla brings out the molassesy (shush, that's a word) flavor.

                                                  I wouldn't make it any other way.

                                                  Obviously if you have an overcooked cane syrup, your pie will taste overcooked. Last I bought was from a guy near Plant City --a lovely dark-amber and a really balanced flavor with rum and vanilla undertones -- hoping I can find him again.

                                                2. a
                                                  Ama658 Oct 14, 2013 04:48 AM

                                                  This is clearly not a traditional pecan pie, so it may not help...but it is really good. So good, in fact, that had to keep updating a stash in my freezer so family members could have a steady supply. Only thing I really changed was the bourbon--didnt have it on hand so lots of rum or other delicious alcoholic enhancements may have been played with ;)
                                                  Pecan pie truffles:
                                                  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/20...

                                                  1. almond tree Oct 14, 2013 04:38 AM

                                                    Brown rice syrup is another not-too-sweet alternative to corn syrup.
                                                    I like a lot of goo in proportion to pecans, so just increasing the amount of nuts wouldn't work for me.

                                                    1. d
                                                      deputygeorgie Oct 13, 2013 11:20 PM

                                                      My granny just doubles the pecans and reduces the Karo syrup... Once you try her pecan pie you won't eat another kind.

                                                      1. greygarious Oct 13, 2013 10:03 PM

                                                        My late friend, a Kentucky native and crackerjack home cook, made excellent pecan pie with her mother's recipe. The flavor of the nuts was not overwhelmed by sweetness. She felt the key was to use light corn syrup, not dark.

                                                        1. g
                                                          gordeaux Oct 13, 2013 06:30 AM

                                                          I'm a pecan pie freak. I've modified the standard recipe you are talking about because of the sweetness. I make these so often, I don't need a recipe to follow:

                                                          3 eggs
                                                          1tsp vanilla
                                                          1/2 cup sugar
                                                          3/4 cup of pancake syrup (sadly enuff, I prefer the fake butter flavored pancake syrup)
                                                          a chunk of melted butter - maybe around a quarter of a stick.
                                                          1.5 cups of pecans.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: gordeaux
                                                            firecooked Oct 13, 2013 09:27 PM

                                                            I'm a huge fan of the real deal... do you thing it will work with maple syrup?

                                                            1. re: firecooked
                                                              alkapal Oct 14, 2013 05:52 AM

                                                              i think maple syrup is too thin. i suppose there are tweaks to remedy that.

                                                              ~~~~~~
                                                              funny, i'm thinking of the terroir of the pie. pecans and maple syrup just don't "go" together in the "sense-of-place" way of thinking about food. but having said that, pecans are good with just about anything. (how's that for having it both ways? LOL).

                                                              1. re: alkapal
                                                                s
                                                                sandylc Oct 14, 2013 08:31 PM

                                                                I have used maple syrup in pecan pie for many years. It's delicious and much less sweet-tasting. It adds wonderful flavor to the pie, whereas Karo corn syrup adds nothing but too much sweetness.

                                                                I agree with another poster that Karo is disgusting, but I keep it on hand because some family members want caramels and nut brittles at Christmas, and my recipes for these use it.

                                                              2. re: firecooked
                                                                Caitlin McGrath Oct 14, 2013 11:36 AM

                                                                Maple syrup works great; it makes a rather intense pie, of which you only need eat a small piece. I have used this recipe, cutting the sugar by a third: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                  firecooked Oct 15, 2013 04:39 PM

                                                                  Perfect!

                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                    j
                                                                    Joebob Oct 17, 2013 01:10 AM

                                                                    Cut both the brown and white sugars by 1/3?

                                                                    1. re: Joebob
                                                                      Caitlin McGrath Oct 17, 2013 04:56 PM

                                                                      You know, come to think of it, I think I've just left out the white sugar altogether, so I was really reducing the overall sugar quantity by a quarter.

                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                        j
                                                                        Joebob Oct 17, 2013 05:17 PM

                                                                        Thanks for your prompt response. I too would prefer to take out the white and leave in the brown in such a recipe.

                                                              3. s
                                                                sueatmo Oct 12, 2013 09:02 PM

                                                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pecan_pie

                                                                "Claims have been made of the dish existing in the early 1800s in Louisiana, but this does not appear to be backed up by recipes or literature.[3] Attempts to trace the dish's origin have not found any recipes dated earlier than 1886,[4] [5] and well-known cookbooks such as Fannie Farmer and The Joy of Cooking did not include this dessert before 1940.[6] The earliest recorded recipes produce a boiled custard with pecans added, which is then baked in a pie crust.[7
                                                                ]Some have stated that the French invented pecan pie soon after settling in New Orleans, after being introduced to the pecan nut by Native Americans.[citation needed] Pecan pie may be a variant of chess pie, which is made with a similar butter-sugar-egg custard.[8]

                                                                The makers of Karo syrup significantly contributed to popularizing the dish[1] and many of the recipes for variants (caramel, cinnamon, Irish creme, peanut butter, etc.) of the classic pie. The company has claimed that the dish was a 1930s "discovery" of a "new use for corn syrup" by a corporate sales executive's wife.[9]"

                                                                Since most recipes call for putting the pecans on the top of the pie, I suspect it is a variant of chess pie, as the article suggests. Perhaps it had no cane syrup before Karo popularized it. If it was invented in its present form circa 1920, the dish is almost 100 years old.

                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: sueatmo
                                                                  sunshine842 Oct 13, 2013 08:12 AM

                                                                  once again -- Karo is *not* cane syrup. It's corn syrup.
                                                                  http://www.karosyrup.com/products.html

                                                                  Might not have high fructose corn syrup anymore, but they say it's corn syrup all over the website.

                                                                  the taste difference is substantial.

                                                                  A more-scholarly, considerably more detailed history, with an assortment of historical recipes, is here: http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodpies....

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                    s
                                                                    sueatmo Oct 13, 2013 05:43 PM

                                                                    Mea culpa on the corn syrup, but I don't get what your prob is with the quote from Wikipedia, which heading is Pecan Pie?

                                                                    1. re: sueatmo
                                                                      sunshine842 Oct 13, 2013 05:48 PM

                                                                      who said I had a prob? The FoodTimeline article is more scholarly and more detailed, with an assortment of historical recipes, just like I stated.

                                                                    2. re: sunshine842
                                                                      paulj Nov 1, 2013 10:27 AM

                                                                      All of the pre 1931 Karo recipes in FoodTimeLine use a milk based custard. None use cane syrup. There is a 1942 recipe that uses cane syrup, but it looks just like the Karo syrup recipes.

                                                                      I don't see any conflicts between the Wiki quote and FTL. In fact the Wiki article liberally cites FTL.

                                                                      As for the supposed sweetness of Karo, I noticed that all the Karo based recipes add sugar, usually 1c of syrup and 1c of sugar.

                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                        sunshine842 Nov 1, 2013 07:23 PM

                                                                        "supposed"? Have you actually stuck a spoonful in your piehole lately?

                                                                        Karo consumed straight-up is nauseatingly, tooth-achingly sweet....and has such a high sugar content that it can be used as a laxative because the high sugar content has hygronomic properties, draing water into the intestines, easing the condition.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                                          paulj Nov 1, 2013 08:38 PM

                                                                          What do you mean by 'high sugar content'? How can it high than sugar, which is pure sucrose? I can find claims that Karo was, and to some extent still is, used as a laxative, but don't find an authoritative source about how it works. The recommended dose is something like a teaspoon in a glass of water. That does not sound like a 'high sugar content'. And why the preference for 'dark Karo' for this use? http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/karo-syrup-for-constipation/AN01826

                                                                          So is pecan pie a laxative?

                                                                          http://www.foodproductdesign.com/arti...
                                                                          while not mentioning Karo in particular, this is a nice summary of many different kinds of sugars.

                                                                          1. re: paulj
                                                                            sunshine842 Nov 1, 2013 08:54 PM

                                                                            Unless you have tried cane syrup and corn syrup straight-up and side-by-side, you simply will never understand.

                                                                            One is nauseatingly sweet with no flavor whatsoever other than sweet....the other is powerfully sweet, but has a far less gloppy mouthfeel and has a rich molasses/rum/vanilla flavor profile.

                                                                            They're not the same, and as above -- Lyle's and cane syrup can both be used in applications where they stand on their own in a dish -- Karo is nothing more than intensely sweet.

                                                                            (my description of how Karo works as a laxative is that given to me by a pediatrician.)

                                                                    3. re: sueatmo
                                                                      alkapal Oct 14, 2013 05:49 AM

                                                                      i've always just blended the nuts into the filling, and the nuts rise to the top. to make it fancy with pecan halves, of course, one can also place them on top.

                                                                      i like the idea of a chess pie with pecans, but chess pies are sweet, too.

                                                                      to remedy the "too sweet" pecan pie issue, i just use a higher nut-to-filling ratio. and i use light karo.

                                                                      1. re: alkapal
                                                                        caganer Oct 22, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                                        the U of SC press just published a book on historical southern cooking - in it the author notes that the earliest recipes for chess pie contain only a quarter of the sugar used in modern recipes. Feel free to make less sweet chess pie any time.

                                                                        1. re: caganer
                                                                          alkapal Oct 23, 2013 02:30 AM

                                                                          interesting. can you please link to the publication/reference?

                                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                                            paulj Nov 1, 2013 11:38 AM

                                                                            FoodTimeLine entry on chess pie

                                                                            http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodpies....

                                                                    4. j
                                                                      Joebob Oct 10, 2013 05:51 PM

                                                                      One can up the pecans a little too when you reduce the Karo.

                                                                      1. monavano Oct 10, 2013 05:07 PM

                                                                        Bourbon
                                                                        Semi Sweet/Bittersweet chocolate
                                                                        Sprinkle sea salt or other finishing salt

                                                                        Any or all of the above would balance the sweetness.

                                                                        1. Will Owen Oct 11, 2013 05:21 PM

                                                                          Just for the record, I won't have any Karo in the house. Vile stuff.

                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Will Owen
                                                                            s
                                                                            sueatmo Oct 11, 2013 05:32 PM

                                                                            You may consider it vile, but it is what traditional pecan pie is made with.

                                                                            I use a dollop of molasses in the white Karo, and I use 2 C of pecans instead of the normal 1 C.

                                                                            I believe there are some recipes out there that put cream cheese or sour cream in the filling, and that would cut the sweetness.

                                                                            I am now on a low carb diet, and I confess I haven't made pecan pie in several years. But pecan pie is all about being sweet. That is the way it is supposed to be.

                                                                            1. re: sueatmo
                                                                              m
                                                                              magiesmom Oct 11, 2013 06:56 PM

                                                                              How was pecan pie made before Karo? With cane syrup.

                                                                              1. re: magiesmom
                                                                                MidwesternerTT Oct 11, 2013 07:07 PM

                                                                                Since Karo has been around since 1902 (and corn syrup longer than that), lots of other processes have also changed. I'm sure the wood fire smoke added to the flavor of pecan pies in the past, but I'll continue using my oven and Karo.

                                                                                http://karosyrup.com/about_us.html

                                                                                1. re: magiesmom
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  sueatmo Oct 12, 2013 08:58 PM

                                                                                  Karo is cane syrup. The pecan pie recipe I used for decades called for white corn syrup. However in my childhood, I remember eating dark Karo syrup on pancakes.

                                                                                  I believe Alton Brown indicates that the syrup is hygroscopic. It adds to the moisture of a baked product. (I think I have that right. Someone correct me if I am wrong.) You could add some of the syrup instead of some of the white sugar, if you wanted a certain effect in your baked goods.

                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo
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                                                                                    magiesmom Oct 13, 2013 07:03 AM

                                                                                    no, Karo is corn syrup, cane syrup is made from sugar cane.

                                                                                    1. re: magiesmom
                                                                                      sunshine842 Oct 13, 2013 08:07 AM

                                                                                      cane syrup also makes for a less-sweet, far less gloppy-gooey pie.

                                                                                      Cane syrup for me -- I sub dark rum for vanilla extract -- makes a truly lovely pie.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                        emily Oct 18, 2013 06:19 AM

                                                                                        As does Lyle's Golden Syrup (a cane syrup), which is what I use.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
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                                                                                          Indy 67 Oct 22, 2013 12:12 PM

                                                                                          Here's a version from the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking. (What follows has been paraphrased)

                                                                                          Pecan Pie with Cane Sugar and Rum

                                                                                          pie crust using favorite recipe including store bought

                                                                                          3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
                                                                                          3 large eggs
                                                                                          1 cup sugar (white for a lighter flavor, brown for a richer flavor and color)
                                                                                          1 cup cane syrup
                                                                                          5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
                                                                                          1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon dark rum
                                                                                          1/2 teaspoon salt

                                                                                          Preheat oven to 375F

                                                                                          Spread pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast the nuts in the oven 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Nuts should be golden and fragrant.

                                                                                          Whisk remaining filling ingredients until blended. Stir in the toasted nuts.

                                                                                          Place the pie crust in the pie pan and place it in the prehated oven. Cook until the crust is hot to the touch; then, pour in the filling.

                                                                                          Bake until the edges are firm and the center seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when the pan is nudged, 35-45 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 11/2 hours.

                                                                                          Serve warm or at room temperature.

                                                                                          Do-Ahead Notes: The pie can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store in the refrigerator but let warm to room temperature, or warm in a 275F oven for 15 minutes before serving.

                                                                                          Another option: Add more -- and stronger -- liquor. In my files, I have the recipe from Tujague's restaurant in New Orleans which calls for 3 tablespoons Armagnac or brandy rather than the more typical rum (as above) or bourbon.

                                                                                          1. re: Indy 67
                                                                                            sunshine842 Oct 22, 2013 06:38 PM

                                                                                            that's the recipe I use -- it's actually a variation on the recipe in the book, but it's a good one.

                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842
                                                                                            paulj Nov 1, 2013 10:15 AM

                                                                                            I wonder about the comparative sweetness of cane and corn syrup. Cane syrup is a mix of sucrose, glucose and fructose, the latter 2 coming from the dissociation of sucrose.

                                                                                            Corn syrup is often described as pure glucose (dextrose), though I've seen a more detailed analysis that included more complex sugars. But in any case it has little to no fructose. Fructose tastes substantially sweeter than glucose.

                                                                                            I think part of why Karo added HFCS to their syrup for a while was because customers expected something a bit sweeter.

                                                                                            I haven't tasted southern style cane syrup. I have used Karo, but rarely tasted it plain. But Lyles Golden Syrup certainly is sweet (with the added complexity of a 'buttery' taste).

                                                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                                                              sunshine842 Nov 1, 2013 07:22 PM

                                                                                              you can't compare if you haven't tasted them -- Karo, cane syrup, and Lyle's all have their own distinctive flavor.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842
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                                                                                                MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 07:48 PM

                                                                                                They do indeed. Cane syrup and Lyle's can stand on their own to dress things. I can't imagine using corn syrup as anything but an ingredient.

                                                                                          3. re: magiesmom
                                                                                            s
                                                                                            sueatmo Oct 13, 2013 05:41 PM

                                                                                            Aaah! You are right. My bad.

                                                                                    2. re: Will Owen
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                                                                                      zenith628 Nov 1, 2013 04:44 AM

                                                                                      Will Owen I agree with you. Karo is frankenfood and I wouldn't touch the stuff either. I'm planning to make a pecan pie this year using the Cook's Illustrated recipe which calls for maple syrup. We'll see how it goes. :)

                                                                                      1. re: zenith628
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                                                                                        LorenzoGA Nov 1, 2013 09:54 AM

                                                                                        How is Karo (corn) syrup "frankenfood"? It's corn starch that's been converted into sugar. I suppose you think beer is frankenfood, too, since barley malt undergoes a similar process.

                                                                                        1. re: LorenzoGA
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                                                                                          MacGuffin Nov 1, 2013 10:22 AM

                                                                                          Ditto that although the Wholesome Sweeteners brand is my go-to for my very occasional corn syrup needs (I like their molasses as well). They don't have a "dark" version, though. I guess brown rice syrup is "frankenfood" too because its manufacturing process is also similar.

                                                                                        2. re: zenith628
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                                                                                          sandylc Nov 1, 2013 12:21 PM

                                                                                          My current biggest complaint with corn syrup is that it doesn't add any real flavor (other than sweetness) to the pie, yet it is one of the largest components of said pie.

                                                                                          Maple syrup makes a wonderful pecan pie.

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc
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                                                                                            MacGuffin Nov 2, 2013 03:50 PM

                                                                                            That can be an advantage, though, depending on your taste. I personally love maple but have no interest in tasting it in a pecan pie. Corn syrup might also be a better humectant than maple.

                                                                                            1. re: MacGuffin
                                                                                              s
                                                                                              sandylc Nov 2, 2013 08:58 PM

                                                                                              Seriously, you should try it - it's really good.

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                m
                                                                                                MacGuffin Nov 3, 2013 06:32 AM

                                                                                                I have no doubt others find it good, but at 59 I have a pretty good idea of what I'm likely to like. I don't mind tasting some vanilla in pecan pie but other than that, I like the predominant flavor to be that of pecans. It's just a matter of personal taste. :) And I REALLY wish I'd asked for the recipe for that pie I had 25 or so years ago at Souen. :((

                                                                                                1. re: MacGuffin
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  sandylc Nov 3, 2013 04:47 PM

                                                                                                  You beat me! I'm 54...

                                                                                                  I have always loved pecan pie, but was disappointed in the sugary, flavorless goo surrounding those wonderful nuts. Thus, the maple syrup - a bit of rum is nice, too.

                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                    MacGuffin Nov 3, 2013 05:02 PM

                                                                                                    Ah, but I'm almost allergic to alcohol and loathe the way it smells and tastes. I can handle flavor extracts just fine, though. I guess it's because the amounts used are small.

                                                                                          2. re: zenith628
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                                                                                            luvcubs Nov 2, 2013 04:15 PM

                                                                                            I've made that recipe, It is AWESOME. I love it, Maple syrup is incredible. And the bourbon whip cream that goes with it puts it over the top!

                                                                                        3. j
                                                                                          julesrules Oct 10, 2013 03:56 PM

                                                                                          You could also look for a French tart-style recipe, since those tend to be less about the goo and more about the nuts.

                                                                                          1. Cherylptw Oct 10, 2013 03:52 PM

                                                                                            just reduce the sugar and syrup by 1/4 to a 1/3 and use the same recipe

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Cherylptw
                                                                                              MidwesternerTT Oct 11, 2013 07:19 PM

                                                                                              Yes, my recipe uses 1 C syrup but only 2/3 C. sugar (looks like a "traditional" pie uses 1 C). My recipe also has 1/2 tsp. salt which would help counter-balance the sweet, and does not have the vanilla. Vanilla also amplifies the sweet, so try leaving that out.

                                                                                              Filling I use is:

                                                                                              3 eggs
                                                                                              2/3 cup granulated sugar
                                                                                              ½ teaspoon salt
                                                                                              1/3 cup butter, melted
                                                                                              1 cup light or dark corn syrup (Karo)
                                                                                              1 - 1 1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces (Heaping cup)

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