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My favourite recipe

Nothing to do with cacti and succulent plants .....
 ..... except that pecan pies are popular at social events. I took every opportunity during my travels to sample the real thing. This easy and reliable recipe makes a superior pecan pie with an authentic flavour of the deep South.

Pecan Pie

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup finely chopped* pecan nuts
  • 12-16 whole pecan nuts
  • 1 partly baked (230°C for 8 minutes) pie shell

Beat eggs and add maple syrup, sugar, salt, butter, vanilla and chopped nuts. This step can be carried out conveniently by blending the ingredients together in a liquidizer. I usually start by grinding up the nuts and then add in the other ingredients. Pour into pie shell, decorate with whole pecan nuts, and bake at 160°C for 45 - 50 minutes.
Whole Pecan nuts on top can be arranged as a star for Christmas, a cross for Easter or to spell out a lady's name. Float the nuts in the viscous pie mix and carefully transfer the pie to the oven. The arrangement almost always survives.
One can substitute cheaper ingredients: margarine instead of butter, corn syrup instead of maple syrup, peanuts for some of the pecans, but the pie will not taste as nice.
* Note that "chopped nuts" is in the American sense, meaning ground or blended nuts, rather than chopped with a knife.

Maple Syrup

In Great Britain there is usually little choice, but try to get proper maple syrup and not "maple syrup flavoured" grades which are not the real thing.
However, I am told that maple syrup is graded by color. The "higher" grades, Fancy and A, are pale and have little flavor. Vermont Grade C has been cooked longer and is more caramelized, which gives it the darker color and perhaps it's also a bit more concentrated. Tastes like there's a tree somewhere in its ancestry, where the top grades taste mostly like sugar.