How To Make Sorghum Pecan Pie

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I hate pecan pie. It’s like eating a big chunk of peanut brittle in a pie crust. It’s sickeningly sweet with a mealy texture. Gross.

Oh … wait a second. Apparently I hate commercial pecan pie, like you find in restaurants and the freezer section of the grocery store. This one, made with sorghum molasses,1 just might be my new favorite pie. Instead of a candy-sweet pie that has some nuts, it’s a nutty, chunky pie, almost savory but with just enough sweetness.

I’m going to have to do a side-by-side with the tarte tatin, a batch of vanilla ice cream and a bowl of fresh whipped cream to know for sure which is best.

Ingredients


1 sweet pie crust1/3 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup pure sorghum molasses2
1½ cups chopped pecans

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 375°.

Oh, wait. Before I start, I have to point out how ridiculous it’s gotten in this country with preventative legal strategies.

If you can’t quite make it out, the back of the pecan bag reads:

ALLERGEN INFORMATION: THIS PRODUCT IS PACKAGED ON EQUIPMENT THAT PROCESSES PEANUTS AND OTHER TREE NUTS

Umm, fellas … It’s a bag of freaking nuts!

Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest …

Get a bag of shelled halves. The already-chopped ones are chopped too fine for my taste. Measure out a cup and a half and chop very roughly. If a few halves make it through, that’s okay.

Measure again after they’re chopped. The smaller pieces will pack down a little tighter. Add a bit more to make up the difference.

(These were both full before I chopped the pecans.)

Combine the brown sugar and the eggs in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Don’t bother with an electric mixer, a fork will work just fine for this one.


Add the cornstarch and salt.

Melt the butter — yes, the microwave is fine, don’t get all “old-school” on me and tell me Grandma didn’t have a microwave — and stir it in.

Add the nuts …

… and the sorghum. Notice how it sinks to the bottom. Neat. (I couldn’t help thinking about those commercials for Liquid-Plumr.)

Get every last drop of surghum, then mix one more time.

Pour everything into the prepared pie crust and tilt the dish around to make sure it’s evenly distributed. Don’t worry if the pecans float to the top. Remember how heavy the sorghum is?

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the center is firmed up bit still a bit jiggly. (Yes, that’s the official cooking term: “jiggly”.)

Let the pie sit for 15 minutes before cutting. Serve on nice plates, this pie deserves it. And some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream wouldn’t hurt.

And that’s it.


[1] Now technically, sorghum isn’t really molasses. Molasses is a byproduct from the process of refining sugar cane or sugar beet, while sorghum syrup comes from the sorghum plant. Most sorghum today is grown for forage or silage (that’s livestock feed) or for sugar, except in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where they still grow it for sorghum syrup.

Sharing a recipe for pecan pie, and then getting all picky with someone from Alabama about whether sorghum is really molasses or not … well that would just be rude. So like I said up in the ingredients list, “sorghum molasses”.

[2] If you can’t get sorghum molasses go with cane syrup, known as golden syrup in the UK. If you can’t get cane syrup, go with molasses.

PS: Is it “PEE-can” or “pee-CAHN”? Vote in the comments. And if you vote, where are you from?

Sorghum Pecan Pie

Sorghum Pecan Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet pie crust
  • 1/3 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup pure sorghum molasses
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 375°. Roughly chop the pecans -- you don't want them crushed.

Combine the brown sugar and the eggs in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the cornstarch and salt. Melt the butter and stir it in. Add the nuts and sorghum and mix one last time. Pour everything into the prepared pie crust and tilt the dish around to make sure it's evenly distributed.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the center is firmed up bit still a bit jiggly. (Yes, that's the official cooking term: "jiggly".)

Let the pie sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

Comments

  1. April in CT says:

    I’m a GA southern girl all the way y’all and I vote pee-CAHN. I have always felt a strong aversion to eating anything called a PEE can.

    Hopefully GA won’t disown me.

    This pie looks fantastic, by the way!

  2. I am a Southern California native and I’ve always called it a pee-CAHN. (Hubby is from Sydney, Australia and he says pee-can…ugh!) :)

  3. I’m from Boston and I vote for pee-CAHN too. I don’t think I’ve ever had a non-commercial pecan pie, I’ve been reading a lot about how good they are these past couple months. I think I might have to whip one up, see what’s what.

    BTW, it annoys the hell out of me too when bags of nuts warn that they contain nuts. I mean, cmon. Seriously. I had a bag of “Milk Caramels” that warned that it contained dairy. Yeah. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  4. ericacbarnett says:

    PEANUTS ARE NOT TREE NUTS!

    That is the most maddening thing about that warning.

    And as a Mississippi native, I pronounce it “pih-CAHN.”

  5. My family says it p’cahn (doesn’t sound like “pee” at all). My dad was in the Navy so I’m not from anywhere – but both of my parents were born/raised in Alabama so for the purpose of this conversation I’ll use that.

    kim

  6. I have to go with the p’CAHN – I’m a Texan

  7. April, I'll bet you still giggle when people talk about the 7th planet from the sun.

    Carina, a former coworker once told me he though the SoCal accent sounded like Alabama, but slower.

    Bob & Erica, I'm glad I'm not the only one who is bugged by the warnings.

    Kim, "… not from anywhere …" that's awesome. I'm stealing that.

    Anon, you're keeping the streak alive, everyone's going for pee-CAHN. (Or p'CAHN or pihCAHN)

  8. Yummy. Substitute unrefined sugar (like sucanat) for the brown sugar, and you have a Nourishing Traditions friendly p’CAHN pie.

  9. Kristen, I’ve never looked for any unrefined sugars, so I don’t know of a local source. I’m trying to find a local source for pastured eggs and dairy first, then I’ll worry about the sugar.

  10. By the way, that allergy note you’re so worked up about is actually very important. People, like my sister, who are very allergic to peanuts would have a reaction to this pie – possibly strong enough to cause death. I would have to have pecans that were not processed in the same plant with peanuts.

  11. I’ve already covered the pecan issue on my site. But would you believe I have never in my whole life had pecan pie? It just doesn’t appeal to me. But then, I’m not big on pies OR nuts.

  12. i say peacan and my mother says pecahn. i grew up in va and she grew up in pa. around here my mom is the only one i have heard call them pecahns. its pea cans around here. i’m in the eastern part of va. i’m not sure what’s the norm in the western part of va.

  13. Linda Goossen says:

    We say pih-chan. We live in Kansas, but I was born and raised in Denver!

    The pie looks yummy, and rich!

  14. I’m a native Texan and say puh-cahn with accent on the 2nd syllable.
    I currently live in Lancaster County PA where they sya “pee-can”. Accent on 1st syllable. It like hearing fingernails across a blackboard to me. I want to scream when I hear someone say it. BTW, none of my Yankee step-family say it that way anymore. I’ve trained them well. LOL

  15. Anon, are there actually places that process pecans that don’t also handle peanuts? That’s an honest question, I wouldn’t have thought there were single-nut processing plants. And besides, I would think that if trace peanut contamination could kill me that I’d just avoid nuts altogether.

    Kristin, that’s okay, we know how picky you are. So that’s no: nuts, pie, sourdough. Anything else we can add to the list, just to get it over with?

    Pita, first PEE-can person. Woo! Okay, I’m just saying that because I think I grew up with PEE-can. (Eastern PA, near Philadelphia.) No matter which way I hear it now, there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying it doesn’t sound right.

    Linda, it is. And it is.

    Margaret, I’ve noticed it seems to be only Southerners who get offended when people say it “wrong”. We Yankees are like, “Okay, whatever.”

  16. I always say it p’CAHN. I have lived all over, from Florida and Oklahoma to Japan and California, to Idaho and Utah. Always grates on my nerves a bit to hear PEE-can. :-)

  17. “pee-CAHN” all the way, baby!

    I’m an Oregon native – hope I can find sorghum up here….that pie looks AWESOME, and pecan pie is my husband’s absolute favorite, except for all that sticky, sweet nastiness.

    Maybe, just maybe my pie will taste as good as his mama’s…one can hope.

  18. Peanut Butter even has that warning on it! Crazy. When my son started Kindergarten this year my mother (the non-cooking nurse) told me to ask the teacher if any of the kids had allergies.
    Anyhoo, being a Yankee with Southern roots (my paternal granddad was from Arkansas) I learned to make Pecan Pie for my dad. He loves it. Then when I moved down here to Southeast Texas, I was asked to make a dessert for a Christmas party. I made Pecan Pie. I was told by a 3rd generation Southerner that my pie was “better than his mamma’s Pee-can Pie”. That was my ultimate complement.
    P.S. I put rum in my Pecan Pie recipe, too. Just a tablespoon, just like the cranberry sauce. I guess I must just have too much rum in the house during the holidays. What with the rum punch and rum balls. :)

  19. You want the list? I’ll actually eat most anything (as evidenced by the fact that we had roadkill for dinner last night–it was DELICIOUS), even sourdough if it’s given to me, but I won’t cook things I don’t really love.

  20. It’s PEE-can!
    I’m from New Jersey, by the way.
    And I’m with you on the warnings. I’m eating a snack of mixed nuts right now, and the same warning was on that package.

  21. Stephanie, military brat?

    Charlene, do the fresh whipped cream while you’re at it. If I’m trying to top someone’s memory of their mother’s cooking, I’m going to take any unfair advantage I can get.

    Stephanie … oh, this is a different Stephanie, hi. Ask your mother if there are more kids with allergies than there used to be, or if we’re just more aware of it. I know when I was in grade school there was always at least one kid at each lunch table eating PBJ.

    Kristin, I totally agree with you on cooking things I don’t love. My question is, if I don’t like it how do I know when I got it right?

  22. Barb, North Jersey or South? I’m starting to think PEE-can is narrower than I thought.

    Okay, I just came back from some Googling. Holy cow there’s been a lot of pages written on this. I think this is my favorite.

  23. pee-can : what grandma kept under the bed.
    p’cahn : the nut from the p’cahn tree.

    My grandson tasted peanut butter and his face puffed up… The doctor said no peanuts or any other nuts… But peanuts are not nuts; they’re legumes…

    Lightbulb! And now that you point out the warning label, maybe I understand the restriction… Peanuts are processed like nuts… So they warn against all nuts because they may have been in contact with peanuts! Ya think?

    Love pecan pie and it is the most simple to make… one bowl and no mixer!

  24. Drew, since she’s a pediatric nurse, she’s seen an increase in kid allergies. Of course since she’s also a breastfeeding consultant, she thinks it might be due to the increase of formula fed kids, but then that’s one groups opinion.
    BTW, both of my sons were eating high allergen food (shrimp, eggs, dairy, peanut butter, soy) as “first” foods. Also, I breastfed them. See it as you will.

  25. Barb, that makes sense. It’s so hard to really know what’s in prepared foods that you have to pass up a pretty broad range to be sure you avoid the one thing you can’t have. I know several people with celieac — gluten intolerance. It’s damn hard to eat processed foods and avoid wheat.

    Stephanie … eh, I started writing a rant here. I decided to move it to the forum.

  26. Drew,

    Have you checked out http://www.localharvest.org and http://www.eatwild.com for local sources of pastured eggs and dairy? Also, where do you live? If your locale or surrounding area has a Craigslist, you may be able to post a want ad there or find someone wanting to sell extra eggs.

  27. Kristin, I followed the links from your blog right after reading your comment. :-) Unfortunately the nearest one listed is about 48 minutes away according to Google Maps. There’s one on the West Side that I could possibly hit on the days I have to go in to the office, but their CSA for 2009 is already sold out.

  28. My first year in Austin all the waiting lists for local CSAs were years long, but I was able to get into one that was about an hour's drive to the pickup point. I didn't want to drive 2 hours each week to pick up a box of veggies & eggs, so I conspired with a group of four of my nearby friends for us to ALL buy shares. We traded off weeks for driving down, so we only made the long drive once every five weeks. So, there may be work arounds you haven't thought of yet!

  29. Kristen, you’re making it very hard for me to put off doing that work. Thanks a lot.

    And in an amazing coincidence, I saw an article in the paper today talking about people putting up chicken coops in abandoned lots downtown.

  30. made this tonight and it came out pretty well, thanks! however, I did end up with a layer of pecans at the top and just the jellied layer underneath; any idea how to make it more homogeneous? or just use more pecans? :)

    thanks for giving me a use for the sorghum I’ve had for ages. It’s a lot more complex and interesting than straight corn syrup, and doesn’t have that one-note SWEET taste.

  31. slfisher, my first idea would be beating the wet ingredients together more before adding the pecans. If the egg is whipped more it will start to thicken up, which might hold the nuts better.

    I like the dense texture you get when you don’t whip the filling, but that might be a good trade-off to get the nuts incorporated better.

  32. I am a Georgia girl living in the UK and it’s definitely p’CAHN. Recipe sounds great !

  33. Sherrie, I imagine over there if people talk about pecans at all it’s definitely PEE-can, am I right? Or maybe even PEEK-n from the less aristocratic types.

  34. Anonymous says:

    This looks delicious first of all…

    Sorry to add on, but I must: About the nut allergy thing. My younger brother used to get extremely ill every year at an annual Christmas party when we were kids. He would have severe stomach problems (I don't want to elaborate at all on that one) and then would swell up, prompting several emergency room visits. My parents (both doctors) had him immediately tested for allergies and it came up that he was allergic to pecans, walnuts, milk, and soy. So they told him "Don't eat any nuts" including peanuts, because in my mother's words: "Do you think a 4 year-old is going to try and figure out what KIND of nuts are in the cookie? It's easier to just say avoid them all."

    Now it's many years later (he's 21) and he ate some peanut butter "accidentally" while off at college. His mouth was itchy but he didn't get sick. He was just re-tested the other day and the results? Allergic to shellfish, walnuts, and a slight reaction to peanuts. No longer allergic to pecans, milk, or soy.

    What the heck?

    Anyway… What I was getting at I guess… Is that they put those stupid warnings on packages because processing plants are too lazy to make sure different allergens don't cross-contaminate. And it is possible to be allergic to some tree nuts and not others, or allergic to peanuts (though a legume) and tree nuts, etc.

    You should start a rant on why pre-packaged foods have stickers like: "Our chicken soup contains real chicken" or "Kraft shredded cheddar cheese–made with REAL cheese!" etc. It's disgusting. Writing like this on packages single-handedly prompted me to stop buying processed foods and cook almost from scratch at all times.

  35. Anon, I have a friend with severe allergies. Her doc has told her that allergies come and go throughout life. You can develop them later, or they can fade. Or, like your brother, what you're allergic to can change.

    As to the labeling, sometimes they're pointing out a real benefit. There are some chicken soups that don't have any chicken meat in them. Think chicken-flavored ramen.

    To me, though, putting it on the label tells me that you are comparing yourself to other soups that may not have any. Look at the picture on a can of Progresso. Yup, there's the chicken right there. Do they think they're competing against Ramen? Don't think so.

  36. Pronounced Pea can: Connecticut

  37. I’m from NoVA and we say p’cahn and you are right it’s only southerns that get mad (my hubbie included). I have come across your blog for THIS recipe. I don’t love pecan pie unless it’s still frozen, then it’s chewy and more like caramel than the disgusting “mealy” mess (exactly the word I would have chosen too). However, this looks really yummy. I love sorghum, we go to the Sorghum Festival here in Georgia and I am going to load up. I can see this being my Christmas present for people in 2010.

    Bummer on the local produce and eggs. If you have a Farmer’s Market Bulletin around, you might find a source. That’s how we sell our eggs.

  38. Aimee, I never understood why people liked pecan pie so much. But one day I heard someone say “sorghum pecan pie” and got to wondering, “So what’s it usually made out of?” Sure enough, corn syrup. No wonder I didn’t like it.

  39. Should the pie crust used here be pre-baked?

    Thanks.

  40. No, this one is not pre-baked.

  41. I’m from the southern tip of Illinois (live in Raleigh NC now) and it’s p’CAHN for me. I’m excited about the sorghum (grew up eating this on hot biscuits) and can’t wait to make this. I get awesome sorghum at the state farmer’s market.

  42. I say pee-can, cuz if it was sposed to be pronounced pe-cahn it would be spelled that way. I hate it when I order, & my dads like, u mean pee-cahn. Im like no, I know what im saying!
    I looove your site by the way, im reading back through the archives right now

  43. I’m a Georgia girl married to a Texan and living in Austin, and everyone in my family says p’CAHN. It aggravates me when I hear p’CAN, like “ran.” And my mother always made the Karo syrup recipe, which is pretty old and we loved it. But sorghum is older and down-homier, and corn-syrup-free. Your recipe is just what I was looking for!

  44. I tried this recipe today and it didn’t set up completely…the filling was still a little liquid. I noticed that you used a glass pie pan and I used a metal one. Would that possibly account for the failure of the filling to set up. I cooked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

    • Yes, the type of pan will make a difference. Pecan pies are hard to test since you can’t stick a toothpick in very easily. What you can do is press down in the center a little bit and see if it’s firmed up or still liquid.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Recipe can be found at Cook like your grandmother (be warned there is a pop up for a newsletter but otherwise great recipe […]

  2. […] they only eat it once a year?So every year I like to try a new pie. I’ve done tarte Tatin, sorghum pecan pie, chocolate banana pie with snickerdoodle crust, and frozen chocolate truffle pie.This year I wanted […]

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