It's a heated debate, that's for sure. Whether you say "pee-can" or "puh-cahn" or both, there's one thing upon which we can all agree -- pecans are delicious! They're one of my favorite flavors for the holidays, and honestly, all year round. Growing up in the pecan industry, they certainly have a special place in my heart. There's something magical about a grove in late summer and early fall. You can see the crop in the trees, but the green leaves aren't done with their splendor and are still holding strong. It's a beautiful sight to behold...but you know after they fall, the long-awaited season has arrived.
Maybe it's me being partial -- or maybe it's true, but I think the pecan is the crown jewel of all Southern delicacies. And that's why pecan pie is a staple for every holiday table!
If your family is like mine, certain recipes are...how shall we say...sacred ground? No one even bothers asking what my Grandpa is bringing (because it's the cornbread dressing, obviously). You know not to infringe on the macaroni and cheese because your aunt has that one covered (and it's the best you've ever tasted). While we're on that topic, you have her recipe and you try to make it, but it never turns out quite like hers...golly, why is that?. Anyway, you know what I mean. I have a feeling that pecan pie might just be one of those sacred dishes, so I'm here to help!
Today, I'm sharing several of my favorite recipes where pecans are the stars of the show. A couple of them will even make you think of pecan pie! Two recipes are my own, but I've found a couple of others I'll be sharing from other folks, too. I'm a big fan of my own/family recipes, but sometimes I find one that I want to share just as it is! So here we go - just look at all the yummy goodness we’re about to make.
I found this recipe over at Dinner Then Dessert and gave it a try! It was scrumptious, so I wanted to share it with all of you. Toss the ingredients together, throw them in the crockpot, stir occasionally and three hours later...your house smells like a candy kitchen and you look like a professional candied pecan maker. You're welcome! I followed her recipe to a T -- so definitely read her instructions. You can find the recipe here.
Grandpa's Pecan Brittle:
For years, my Grandpa has made this brittle recipe and handed it out to our customers! It's a tried and true favorite in our family and my hope is it will become that for your family, too.
2 cups Sugar
1 cup White Karo Syrup
1 cup Water
1 cup (or more) Pecan Pieces
1/2 Stick of Butter
1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Maple Flavoring
Directions: Prepare a sheet pan with butter or parchment paper (I usually add a little butter on top of my parchment paper). Mix sugar, syrup and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and let it cook stirring often. At 280 degrees, add pecans and butter. Stir constantly. Remove from heat at 300 degrees. Add baking soda and maple flavoring. Stir and pour out on prepared pan.
Mini Pecan Pies:
I worked every single day after school during pecan season at the pecan plant, so I got to know many of our regular customers pretty well. One sweet lady "watched me grow up through the years" and we often talked of the sweet treats we planned to make. She shared this recipe with me over 10 years ago, and I've been making them ever since. It's super simple, but a few tips to keep in mind...
For making the crust, let cream cheese and butter come to room temperature naturally. If you let them get too soft, it makes the dough too sticky to handle. On the same note, dough should be crumbly, not fully incorporated together. If over-mixed, it will make also make it too difficult to handle. Just remember -- it's crumbly at first, but with you press it into the muffin tins, it will incorporate together. When pressing the dough into the mini muffin tins, be sure to leave enough dough in the bottom so the filling doesn't seep through and stick to the pan. You don't want the dough super thick, but don't press a hole into it! :) Because of the brown sugar, the filling will stick anywhere it touches the pan (around the edges of the top too)! Now, enough of the details, let's get to the yummy goodness.
3 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
1 stick of butter (room temp).
1 cup of flour
1 cup of chopped pecans
3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins with non-stick spray. Mix cream cheese, butter and flour with an electric mixer until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough mixture into greased muffin tins so dough lines the muffin tins (bottom and sides). Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar and egg. Mix well. Drop filling into each prepared mini pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golding brown. (Make sure crust is baked thoroughly and loosen edges with a toothpick to pop out).
Mini Pecan Pie Muffins:
I got this recipe from a friend years ago, but lately I haven't been able to put my hands on it. My heart hurts. Sigh... I searched and searched online, and this is the closest thing I could find. All I could remember is it was a Paula Deen recipe...so this is at least close! I've made this a couple time since and even though it doesn't taste as amazing as the original, it's pretty close. You can find the recipe here!
I hope these recipes inspire you to pick up some fresh pecans and kick off fall with some sweet homemade treats! All of these are perfect for office parties, small group gatherings AND are perfect as gifties to let your people know you're thankful for them! Speaking of...here's the link to handlettered printable gift tags, too! Consider that my way of saying I'm thankful for YOU...since I can't exactly hand you over a jar of candied pecans. :)
So, Happy Fall, Y'all! Which basically means...happy baking and candy making! Oh, and get yourself a sweet fall T here! :)