Make American Pecan Pies

Pecan pie is an American tradition – especially at Thanksgiving. If you fancy giving it a try, here is the lowdown. Our recipe can easily be converted to make miniature pecan pies: divide your sweet shortcrust between 12 bun tins and reduce the baking time by about 20 minutes.

About Pecan Pie

It’s said that New Orleans was the original home of this American Classic. It was created by French immigrants and adopted all over Southern America – with its gooey filling and handsome pecan topping, this sensational new recipe travelled quickly. Since then, it’s won baking fans all over the world!

American recipes often call for corn syrup, and it’s difficult to find an alternative in the UK (unless you make your own), so use a recipe that specifies golden syrup (richer and denser). We’re fortunate now to be able to buy pecans ready-shelled, as the job of separating the nuts from shells and husks must once have made old-fashioned Pecan Pie a recipe for true devotees! You can vary the basic recipe by swapping some of the nuts (hazels and brazils are good alternatives), adding bourbon, or even a sprinkle of orange zest.

Make American Pecan Pie

Modern Pecan Pie has a lot in common with the British Treacle Tart. Start with an unbaked Sweet Shortcrust Pastry case see our recipe, or just buy one ready-made if you want a shortcut.

You Need:
  • 450g (1lb) of pecan halves
  • 4 large, free-range eggs
  • 175g (6oz) golden syrup
  • 175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
  • 50g (2oz) golden caster sugar
  • 4tbsp butter, melted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp plain flour

Divide the pecans into two piles, and chop one pile into small pieces. In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, beat the eggs until they’re lighter in colour and frothy. Add the golden syrup, the sugars, butter, and vanilla extract, and stir to combine with a metal spoon. Sprinkle over the flour and stir it in well.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC, and put in a baking sheet that is big enough to hold your tart case. Roll the sweet shortcrust pastry to fit a 9” tart case, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Trim the edges, leaving an inch overhang; then fold this gently inwards and crimp with your fingers or a fork.

Tip the chopped pecan nuts into the case and spread them out evenly, and then pour in the filling. Tilt the case gently so that the filling evens out. Now take the remaining pecan halves and arrange them on top in concentric circles, starting at the centre and working outwards.

Put the tart directly onto the preheated baking sheet in the oven, and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the timer buzzes, don’t open the door, but reduce the oven temperature to 170ºC and give the tart another 25-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is just set in the middle. Be careful to cool it for a while before serving, as the filling will be VERY hot.

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