Pecans are indigenous to the United States and Mexico. The name is derived from an Algonquin word meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack. They first came to European attention in the 1600s and were long a delicacy in colonial America. Domestic cultivation did not begin until the 1880s and today the U.S. accounts for over 80% of international production which exceeds 150,000 tons. Georgia leads the nation in terms of pecan production, and is followed by Texas (where it is the state tree), New Mexico and Oklahoma. Pecan trees grow up to 145 feet and can live for 300 years.
Pecan pie is made primarily from corn syrup and pecans. Some claim it was invented by the French in New Orleans, though no recipes of it appear in print prior to 1925. The dish became popularized by the makers of Karo syrup, America’s most popular brand of corn syrup. The company claims that the pie was invented by the wife of a sales executive. Regardless of its origin, it has become an American classic. This is a wonderful and sinful twist on the original. Pecan pie is also a great and easy Christmas dessert.
1 pie crust, store-bought or homemade (store in refrigerator overnight)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup light corn syrup or Golden syrup
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups pecans
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Remove pie crust from the fridge. Allow to warm slightly or it will crack during preparation.
2. In a large bowl, microwave butter and peanut butter until soft, about 1 minute.
3. Add corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well.
4. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust until it is 10-11 inches in diameter. Draping it over the rolling pin, transfer to a 9-inch pie dish.
6. Pour mixture into crust-lined pan. Crimp the pie crust and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until filling is set.
7. Cool to room temperature before serving. For a gooey pie, serve at room temperature; for a firmer pie, cool in refrigerator overnight and serve cold. Can be served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Store in refrigerator.