Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head to the point of distraction? I really just wanted to get into the spirit of things while prepping our Thanksgiving meal, which included this luscious Kahlua Pecan Pie, and now the Andrews Sisters’ Merry Christmas Polka is swirling around in my noggin like a broken record. Apparently there’s no off button for that. Fortunately this recipe is “easy as pie” and required little concentration on my part. Funny enough, the origin of that phrase is “easy as eating pie” — but I think most would agree pies are pretty easy to make as well, especially if you start with a pre-made crust!
According to the Oxford Companion to Food, the pecan, a member of the hickory tree family, is the most important native nut of North America, and its native habitat is the central southern region of the US. The name pecan comes from the Algonquin Indian word paccan, which denoted hickories, including pecans. In fact, the Algonquins used pecans to make a concoction called “hickory milk” which consisted of crushed pecans and boiling water, which was then strained and used in recipes as a thickener and/or a seasoning.
How the pecan found its way into a pie is a whole ‘nother muddled story. Mostly the Louisiana French lay claim to this pie, but there’s some suggestion that the Texas Germans (recreating nusstorte) were the first to make it, where recipes were in print as early as 1886. But the pecan pie didn’t make it to the mainstream until the wife of a corporate sales exec at Karo created the popular Karo Syrup version in the 1930s. By the 1940s, the pie started appearing in cookbooks such as the The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and the Joy of Cooking, and today it ranks as one of the most popular pies in the States.
It seems unnecessary to monkey with perfection, but in 1986, Kahlua did just that when the marketing folks conjured up a recipe book devoted to this syrupy coffee flavored liqueur. It was in that book that the Kahlua Pecan Pie made its first appearance. When I contacted Kahlua a few months ago about reprinting this recipe, I was surprised to learn that most of the recipes had been lost when the company was sold, including this one.
Oh well. I still have my Kahlua Recipe Book, and below is the unaltered version of this classic dessert. It really is easy as pie to make.
You know the drill–first, gather up everything you need so it’s handy.
The original recipe just calls for using your favorite pie crust. As a shortcut, I tried Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust. Somehow, once thawed, it fell to pieces as I unraveled it, and I’m not sure why. I ended up having to re-roll the pastry saving virtually no time at all! Anyway, line your pie plate with the crust and crimp the edge as desired. Set this aside in the fridge.
Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and flour, then add the eggs one at a time.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour into the pie shell. Truth be told, I did alter the recipe slightly to add more pecans for decoration. I reduced the nuts within the mixture to 3/4 cup, and used almost that much to make the decorative top. Feel free to stick with the original plan, though, as the pie will turn out equally gorgeous.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then reduce the oven to 325F, and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Chill before serving.
This is where I’d normally serve up a nice fat slice with a dollop of brandied whipped cream to feast your eyes upon; however, this pie was our Thanksgiving dessert, so I didn’t cut into it until much later.
Here’s the recipe card for your files:
- Pastry crust
- ¼ cup butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tbsp flour
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup Kahlua
- ½ cup dark corn syrup
- ¾ cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup whole or chopped pecans
- Optional: Whipped cream and pecan halves.
- Line 9 in. pie pan with your favorite pastry recipe; chill.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Cream together: butter, sugar, vanilla, flour. Mix well.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time.
- Stir in Kahlua, corn syrup, evaporated milk, pecans
- Mix well, pour into pie pan.
- Bake for 10 min.
- Then reduce heat to 325F and bake until firm (about 40 min).
- Chill. Garnish if desired. Serves 8-10.
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