Someday, I would like to have pecan trees in my yard. I say things like this all the time, whether it could actually happen or not.
“Someday, I would like to have ______________ in my yard.” Insert any of the following:
- nut trees, pecan and almond
- bay laurel trees
- lemon trees, Meyer lemon and true lemon
- orange trees, valencia and clementine
- tangerine trees
- lime trees, Persian and key lime
- Hass avocado trees
- apple trees, Empire and Granny Smith
- Satsuma plum trees
- cherry trees, sweet and tart
- mango trees
- hazel bush
- vanilla orchids
- banana plant
Basically any plant with a culinary use is welcome in my yard. I couldn’t have just one of each because many of these require multiple trees for cross-pollination. Michael and I would have to acquire some serious acreage in several states if we were to try and make this little dream of mine actually happen, so I’m not banking on it. But you never know, we could always win the lottery!
Out of all the flora in my list, I have the best shot at having pecan, cherry, or apple trees. Pecan trees are native to the North America and grow wild in the Southern and Southeastern states, and they can be cultivated in Zones 5-9. Since we live on the border of Zones 6 & 7, we could technically cultivate pecan trees, but they can grow very large, up to 40 meters tall, and our little lot doesn’t have room for trees that big.
Although pecans have been cultivated in North America since the 16th century, commercial propagation of the pecan tree began in the 1880s in Louisiana and Texas. Coincidentally, the process for refining corn sugar was developed around the same time, so although pecan pie made with corn syrup is most definitely a Southern tradition, it’s not necessarily steeped in history.
The traditional corn syrup recipe is becoming somewhat controversial in food circles. Some people leave out the corn syrup and make a custard instead, and there are also recipes using sorghum or other cane syrups. I grew up on my mother’s and grandmothers’ corn syrup pecan pies, so that’s what my recipe uses. Mini foods work well for my family since the boys are so young, and smaller portions are just better for everything, especially a dessert as rich as this.
These mini chocolate pecan pies are my contribution to Sugar High Friday #34, Going Local, a brilliant idea for this months event hosted by Johanna of The Passionate Cook. Check her website for the round-up on Friday August 31.
MINI CHOCOLATE PECAN PIES
Makes 12 mini pies.
muffin tin, 12 cup regular size
1 recipe double crust pie dough
3/4 cup chopped pecans
36 cup pecan halves
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325º F.
2. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Press each ball in the bottom and around the sides of each muffin cup. Work the dough all the way to the top of the muffin cup.
3. In the bottom of each muffin cup, add 1 tablespoon chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon chopped pecans, then arrange 3 pecan halves on top of each.
4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, Kahlúa, vanilla, and salt. Pour the filling over the pecans, making sure all of the pecans are coated in the mixture.
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set and the crusts are golden. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Remove them gently with a plastic knife. Keep pies in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To freeze the pies, chill them first, then wrap each one thoroughly with two layers of plastic wrap. Put them into a freezer bag. They will keep for up to 2 months.