top of page
  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

D's Perfected Pecan Pie #LitHappens #FoodieReads

I was inspired to share this after reading the December selection for our online #LitHappens group. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm picked Christmas at Carnton: A Novella by Tamera Alexander. It's a pie that my younger son perfected several years ago. It's the only pecan pie I make these days.

Do you have a favorite pie? My dad's favorite was pecan pie. I love it, too, but I think my favorite is what my boys call 'The Actual Good Meringue' Lemon Pie.

On the Page

Christmas at Carnton is the first of a three-part book series. Aletta Prescott is a pregnant recent widow with a six-year-old son; her husband, a Confederate soldier, was killed in battle. Threatened with eviction, she lines up a job at the Carnton Plantation. There she meets Jake Winston, a Confederate sharpshooter, who has been injured and is helping with the Women's Relief Society auction at the plantation.

Without spoiling too much of the story, Aletta and Jake end up together in this historical romance. I have to admit it's one of the first books I've read that has the Confederates as protagonists rather than antagonists. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will definitely be looking up the other two in the series.

There were also a plethora of recipes at the end of the book, including Andrew’s Favorite Pumpkin Bread, Scrumptious Southern Shortbread, Tempy’s Old-Fashioned Butter Cookies, Carrie McGavock’s Chow-Chow, and letta’s Southern Pecan Pie (just like Jake’s mama’s). I can't wait to try them all. But I decided to stick with our favorite pecan pie for this post.

She checked her list for the next item to bake. Pecan pies. Her favorite. There was something special about the sugar-coated pecans and the gooey goodness of the filling that tasted like comfort. And home.



  • 1-1/4 cup flour

  • 1-1/2 teaspoon organic granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla salt

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cubed

  • cold water


  • 8 ounces raw pecan halves

  • 8 ounces Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

  • 3 Tablespoons brewed espresso

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

  • 1 cup packed organic light brown sugar

  • 7/8 cup maple syrup

  • 1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder

  • 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla salt

  • 3 large eggs

  • whipped cream or ice cream for serving



In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until chunks the size of small peas form. Pour in 1/4 cup of cold water and pulse, again, till the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and knead 2 to 3 times. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, approximately 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.

Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or - we used - whole nuts in their shell. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove the paper and weights. Return to the oven and bake until the bottom is lightly browned, approximately another 10 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and make the filling.


In a small pan, cook the chopped dates in the brewed espresso until softened to a paste, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

In a dry skillet, cook the pecans over medium heat until they are fragrant and toasted, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the toasted nuts into a bowl and let cool. Wipe out the skillet and use it for the next step, too.

Add the butter to the pan and cook over medium heat, swirling, until the milk solids turn a deep golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, instant coffee powder, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, then slowly whisk in the brown butter until the filling is smooth. Spread the espresso-date mixture over the bottom of the parbaked crust.

Scatter the pecans on top of the espresso-date mixture, filling up the crust as much as possible.

Pour the filling over the pecans. Place in the oven and bake for 70 to 75 minutes - until the filling is set around the edge and slightly jiggly in the center.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool completely. To serve, slice and place on individual plates with a scoop of whipped cream or ice cream.

That's a wrap for my December #LitHappens post. I will also be sharing this with the Dccember #FoodieReads line-up.

31 views4 comments


Amy CookingAdventures
Amy CookingAdventures
Dec 15, 2023

I am super intrigued by this recipe! I love the sugar alternatives and espresso! I don't usually like pecan pie, but I might have to give this one a shot!

Culinary Cam
Culinary Cam
Jan 03
Replying to

I hope you do! This is a family favorite.


Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
Dec 13, 2023

I'm glad you enjoyed the novel. I did too and yes, it was strange to me to read a book featuring the South's side of the Civil War.

Culinary Cam
Culinary Cam
Jan 03
Replying to

Thanks for picking it. I don't think I would have picked it up otherwise.

bottom of page