The pecan is a large, stately deciduous tree. Under favorable conditions it may grow to more than 100 feet in height, with a trunk diameter of 6 feet and a limb spread of some 100 feet.
Pecan trees are very long-lived; some native trees in the Southeast are known to be more than 1,000 years old. Although the pecan needs a frost-free growing season of 140 to 210 days, a cool period is also required for good nut production.
The buttery-rich pecan kernel is golden-brown on the outside and beige inside. Though unshelled pecans are available throughout the year, their peak season is during the autumn months. Shelled pecans may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three months, or frozen up to six months. Care must be taken when storing pecans because their high fat content invites rancidity.
Pecan Pie with Kahlúa & Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter,
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 purchased frozen deep-dish
2/3 cup chilled whipping cream
Pecan halves (optional)
This sinfully rich dessert is amazingly easy to prepare.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat sugar and butter in medium bowl until smooth; beat in flour. Gradually beat in corn syrup, then Kahlúa and vanilla. Mix in eggs, then chopped pecans. Sprinkle chocolate chips over bottom of crust. Pour filling into crust.
Bake pie until filling is puffed around edges and just set in center, covering edge of crust if browning too quickly, about 45 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Drop whipped cream in small dollops around edge of pie. Place pecan half atop each dollop, if desired.
Serves 8 to 10.