Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Nuts About Christmas – Pecans and Pecan Pie Recipe

The Pecan is a species of Hickory and is native to the USA. "Pecan" is from an American Indian word, meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack. The nut was a staple food for American Indians who pounded the nut into a thin meal and then added water to create a nutritious Pecan milk. Although wild Pecans were well-known among the colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s.

Pecans first became known to Europeans in the 16th century; the Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca is credited with writing about this plant. The Spaniards brought the Pecan into Europe, Asia, and Africa beginning in the 16th century. Thomas Jefferson planted Pecan trees, "Carya illinoinensis,' (Illinois nuts) in his nut orchard at his home in Virginia and George Washington reported in his journal that Thomas Jefferson gave him "Illinois nuts" which grew at Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.

Tradition holds that the French invented Pecan Pie soon after settling in New Orleans, after being introduced to the nut by Native Americans. It is sometimes referred to as "New Orleans Pecan Pie," and is often cooked for Thanksgiving.

Pecan Pie

1 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 9-inch (23-cm) purchased or home made pie shell, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). In a mixing bowl, beat together maple syrup, sugar, eggs, melted butter and vanilla with an electric mixer until slightly thickened, about 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in chopped pecans and pour the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a knife poked into the centre of the filling comes out clean. Let cool completely or serve slightly warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

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