• The pecan pies of today bare little resemblance to their 19th-century inspiration. Could we recreate a traditional pecan Pie without using modern day, processed corn syrup? Here’s what we discovered: shopping list
  • Test Kitchen Discoveries shopping list
  • Many traditional syrups (cane, sorghum) produced a great pie, but we had to mail away for them. In the end, combining maple syrup with brown sugar and molasses replicated the old-fashioned versions perfectly. shopping list
  • Start the pie at 450 degrees and then drop down the temperature to 325 degrees to ensure the bottom crust is crisp and golden brown. shopping list
  • If you don’t let your pie completely cool, the filling won’t firm to the proper consistency and the pie won’t slice nicely. shopping list
  • A last-minute addition of cream yielded a welcome custardy transformation to the filling. This also made the filling looser; a problem easily solved by adding extra egg yolks. shopping list
  • toasting the nuts before they went into the pie gave them enough crunch and flavor to hold their own in the filling. shopping list
  • Move Over, Karo shopping list
  • Before cloying Karo syrup monopolized the market, pies were made with many other, less processed types of syrup, including sorghum (made from a cereal grass) and cane (made from the boiled-down juice of the sugarcane plant). These syrups still exist, and you can mail-order them, but otherwise you’ll probably need to travel to places like Louisiana or Kentucky to find them. We tasted a range of such syrups, including Steen’s 100% Pure cane syrup and Townsend’s Sweet Sorghum, then tried to duplicate their complex flavors from products we could buy at the supermarket. In the end, a combination of three ordinary sweeteners created an old-fashioned flavor that easily bested Karo. shopping list

How to make it

  • Regular or mild molasses tastes best in this pie. Use your favorite pie dough or our Single Crust Pie Dough recipe.
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg yolks , lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted and chopped pecans
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell (see note), chilled in pie plate for 30 minutes
  • 1. MAKE FILLING Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat sugar, syrup, cream, and molasses in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk butter and salt into syrup mixture until combined. Whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.
  • 2. BAKE PIE Scatter pecans in pie shell. Carefully pour filling over. Place pie in hot oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center jiggles slightly when pie is gently shaken, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool pie on rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until set, about 3 hours and up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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