There are two types of pecan pies, one of which contains not only sugar but also corn syrup. I like this no-corn-syrup version better-it's a custard pie, loaded with pecans. Toast the pecans first for best flavor. Top with vanilla or coffee ice cream and/or whipped cream.
1 Flaky Piecrust (see recipe below), fitted into a 9-inch pie pan and chilled
2 cups pecans or walnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Prebake the crust and put the pecans on a baking sheet and bake (you can do this before the oven reaches 425°F), shaking and stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the pecans are hot. Cool the pecans; coarsely chop half of them and leave the other half intact.
2. Start the filling while the crust is in the oven. When the crust is done, turn the oven to 375°F.
3. Beat the eggs well, until foamy. Beat in the sugars, salt, and butter. While the crust is baking, warm this mixture in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until hot to the touch; do not boil. Stir in the vanilla extract and the pecans.
4. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour this mixture into the still-hot crust and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture shakes like Jell-O but is still quite moist. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
Chocolate Pecan Pie. Before beginning Step 3, melt 2 ounces semisweet chocolate with 3 tablespoons of butter until smooth. Let cool while you beat the eggs, sugars, and salt (omit the remaining butter). Combine the chocolate and egg mixtures and warm gently as in Step 3, then proceed as directed.
Butterscotch Pecan Pie. Use 4 eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, and add 3/4 cup cream. Omit the granulated sugar. Add the cream with the eggs in Step 3 and proceed as directed.