Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to dessert. As a die-hard chocolate fan, I add chocolate into everything I can, no matter what the original recipe calls for. Some go for fruity sweets, while others are satisfied with a simple but classic vanilla. No matter what our personal preferences are, no one can deny that pecan pie is a quintessential dessert, especially when it comes to Texas.
Apple pie is said to be the American pie, but many a Texan would beg to differ. Although pecans grow liberally throughout the South, only Texas has defined pecan pie as its official state dessert. The question is, how did pecans become such a huge part of Texas food culture?
The Origin of Pecan Pie
Pecans have been featured in Native American cooking for thousands of years, but they didn't show up in recipe books until the late 1800s. At first, the majority of Pecan trees grew along the Mississippi River, spreading into Alabama. After the Civil War, commercial developers brought pecans to grow in Georgia, and then Louisiana in the mid to late 1800s.
The origins of pecan pie are unknown, but some say that the French invented the delicacy after settling in New Orleans. The first pecan pie recipe found in a cookbook was in a St. Louis cookbook in 1898, and we have a Texan woman to thank for it.
Although I can only imagine that this recipe was delicious, pecan pie didn't become widespread or popular until Karo syrup popularized it in the 1920s. Back then, food companies often used recipes to encourage consumers to buy and use their products.
Karo Corn Syrup
Many new products were unfamiliar to home cooks, so the recipes were the perfect way to sell a product and educate consumers on how to use it. Karo used this strategy to sell corn syrup, showing consumers how delicious pecan pie could be with this added sweetener.
Karo's pecan pie recipe was the catalyst to pecan pie becoming the beloved Southern dish it is today! Since pecans are in season in the fall and grow throughout the South, pecan pie quickly became a popular fall-time Southern dessert, ideal for Thanksgiving dinner. On any self-respecting Southern holiday table, you'll find pecan pie alongside the classic pumpkin pie and fruit pie.
The Official Texas State Dessert
Although pecan pie has been a quintessential part of Texas cuisine since the 20's, it didn't become official until 2013. After a proposal from representative Marsha Farney, the Texas House of Representatives decided to make the pie the official state dessert to reflect the Lone Star's state deep love of pecan pie!
This led to a (mostly facetious) debate about the stipulations of "Texas pecan pie," some people saying that the pie had to be made with pecans grown from Texas pecan trees and couldn't have any chocolate in it. However, none of these suggestions made it into the official resolution.
There are many opinions on the best pecan pie- some swear by dark corn syrup, while others prefer light. The pie crust is an important detail, and most Texas pecan pie recipes involve flaky, buttery pie shells that are made by hand. The contents of a good pecan pie are also up for debate, but the classic ingredients are pecan pieces, brown sugar, vanilla extract, large eggs, melted butter, salt, and corn syrup. As for the pie crust, this usually includes all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, ice water, salt and sugar.
I'm a big fan of making chocolate pecan pie, which adds a whole new element of sweetness to the final product! Along with this, pecan pie is best enjoyed with a yummy topping like whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If all this talk of pie has you craving a bite, here's an easy and delectable Southern pie recipe!