Jun 28, 2008

Park Cafe Pecan Pie

I made this pie for Father's Day. It's our family fave for Thanksgiving and always my dad's pick for his birthday or any occasion, for that matter.

The recipe comes from the Park Cafe in Glacier National Park. The first time I visited Glacier, we discovered the Park Cafe in St. Mary and had dinner there several nights in a row, it was so good. We even drove back over the border from Waterton National Park in Canada to eat there. I remember the food being good, but it was the pie that brought us back again and again. The cafe's slogan is "pie for strength" and they make a long list of flavors fresh each day. It's good fuel for climbing the mountain trails in Glacier and Waterton. I managed to talk my way into getting their pecan pie recipe when I was there and it is the one that has become our family favorite.

If you visit Glacier, be sure to check out the cafe and have a piece of pie for me. (The cafe, and most of the park, is only open during the summer, so be sure to check their hours before heading out. On another visit to Glacier in September, we just missed them, as it was too late in the season. Huge bummer!)

Recipe notes: I used half dark and half light Karo syrup. You could do it with just one, but I'd go with the light in that case. The dark syrup gets almost too dark and carmelized when it bakes that long. When I make my own crust, I usually use a deep pie pan. This recipe will fill a deep crusted pan. But if you're using a store-bought crust, you may have a bit of filling left over. Put that in a ramekin and bake it along with the pie for a chef's treat.

Park Cafe Pecan Pie

1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
3 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 cups pecans, halves or pieces
pie crust

Cream together butter and brown sugar for at least two minutes. Add Karo, eggs, salt and vanilla and mix well.

Place pie crust in pie pan. Sprinkle pecans over bottom of pan. Place pie pan on a cookie sheet.

Pour filling over pecans in pie pan.

Place pie and cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 75 minutes. Keep an eye on it after about 45 minutes. You may need to put a piece of foil over the top to keep it from browning too much.

Now, here's the hard part. Let cool for several hours to let pie come together. If you cut it too soon or while it's still warm, the filling will be too loose. You can refrigerate it to hasten this process, if you like. My dad actually likes it better straight from the fridge.

This baked filling with the pecans also makes a great pecan pie ice cream when placed in vanilla ice cream. Add it to the vanilla ice cream after you take it out of the machine, while it's still soft. Stir it in a bit but don't overmix it. You want the wads of pie filling to stay together so you get a nice hit of it when you're eating the ice cream. Then place in the freezer and freeze as usual.

Adapted from the Park Cafe.

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