Save room for pie if you are coming to Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year! Pecan pie promises to play a starring role. In its third year of repertoire, sublimely luscious.
What’s the excitement? It’s a long story dating back to 1957 when I was first learning to cook and bake. I wanted to make a pecan pie since our family had just received a sackful of whole pecans from Texas as a gift. Mom immediately nixed the idea. I can still hear her gentle authoritative voice, “Dear, we don’t make pecan pie because it has Karo syrup in it; it’s just a cheap form of sugar.”
I didn’t refute her wisdom.
After years of checking every Pecan Pie recipe I came across, imagine the euphoria of discovering in recent years “The Easiest and Best Southern Pecan Pie” recipe made with maple syrup and brown sugar in a 1978 community cookbook. I only make it for Thanksgiving, counting it as a blessing. And yes, Mom did know best about not using high-fructose corn products.
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One cannot celebrate Thanksgiving on one kind of pie alone. The traditional pumpkin pie appears annually to appease those tastes. A sliver of it is so good leftover for breakfast the next morning with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
To keep things fresh and catch palates off guard, I plan to serve another piece de resistance: pear pie. Originally from the tea room at Allied Arts in Menlo Park supporting Stanford Children’s Hospital in the 1960s, this is a year-around pleaser.
The best news is that both pies use regular frozen pie shells if you don’t have a favored pastry recipe.
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tblsp. flour
2 tblsp. melted butter (1/4 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 9-inch shallow pie shell
1 cup shelled pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. With a whisk or mixer, beat the eggs, syrup, sugar, flour, melted butter and vanilla until well blended. Spread pecans evenly in the pie shell. Pour the egg mixture over the pecans. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until pie is set. Best served at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Serves six.
4 ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored (well drained canned pears may be used)
1 9-inch shallow pie shell
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. Vanilla
Prepare pears and place round-side-up around the pie shell using one of the halves to fill the middle. In the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held mixer, beat the sugar, butter, flour, eggs and vanilla until creamy. Pour the mixture over pear halves in unbaked pie shell. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 55 minutes. When done, inserted knife will come out clean.