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Recipe: Pecan Pie with Rum and Chocolate

March 6, 2015


The Depression and the Dust Bowl sent my grandparents’ families to California, but they never changed how they ate: fried chicken, flour gravy, biscuits and cornbread with sorghum molasses—and pecans. My grandpa grew his own pecans because store-bought were too expensive. He and my grandma–with her beautifully gnarled arthritic hands– spent hours watching TV and shelling them so come Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’d have pecans for pecan pie and candied yams. I remember gray fall evenings climbing the trees with my cousins, shaking limbs until pecans rained down. We’d tell stories while shelling them together.

In my hometown, they used to grow walnuts. I grew up on Burl Street, so-named after walnut burls. Every house had a walnut tree in the yard; some even launched walnuts for us to find on our walk to school. We’d crack them open with our teeth, then check for spiders.

My mom made the crusts for pies, and I filled them. I used the pecan pie recipe from the tattered Betty Crocker cookbook but we replaced some of the corn syrup with sorghum molasses connecting us back to the family farm in Missouri.

When I moved away, I started experimenting. I liked vanilla, so I added that. When I ran low on pecans, I added walnuts. When we were cooking and drinking rum spiced cider, I added rum. Another time, I added chocolate chips. And so my pecan pie recipe evolved and grew with me.


One Thanksgiving, I set housemates to shelling pecans from a huge jar my grandparents had given me. The house smelled of the oven warming, butter melting, and fresh nutmeg. Nutmeg? “We can’t find the pecans,” they complained. “It’s all shell!” They’d opened the wrong jar, but we found a laugh and a story.

I live with my husband and my son now, my grandparents are gone, and so is my mom. But each time I make a pecan and walnut pie, the love and the stories we shared are with me–and they travel with me too.

(This is my entry to the World Nomads Passport and Plate Scholarship for a foodie to travel to Sri Lanka. Read more about the scholarship here. Check out my page at World Nomads and learn more about World Nomads.)


  • Ingredients
  • 1 pie shell (if you make your own use vodka instead of water; if you buy the crust, avoid those with lard—you want one with butter)
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses or sorghum or honey
  • 3 large slightly beaten eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups shelled pecans and/or walnuts (halfs or pieces)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T dark rum
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • How to prepare this recipe
  • Anyone can make these easy pies! Cooking can be easy and fun so give them a try!
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat the eggs lightly with a fork or whip or mixer in a big bowl.
  • Add in this order: corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar, butter, salt, rum, vanilla
  • Spread pecans and chocolate chips across the pie shell (best if cooked in a glass pie pan) and bake at 350 degrees for an hour or until a knife stuck in comes out clean.


  • If the pan is overfull, you can put the extra in to any oven safe baking dish and cook it for a shorter time with the rest.TIP: You can usually find glass pie pans in a thrift store. Buy crusts already prepared (check to see if they use lard! you want butter) and roll them out then lay them out in the glass pan; be sure to “marry” any creases or cracks by blending the edges together with your fingers. Crimp the rim for that homemade look.

This is a revision of this blog post from 2007.

Here’s my bio from the application:

A scholarship to travel to Sri Lanka with World Nomads? Where I will be guided to experience the exquisite and complex cuisine of this Island state from farm to table? Prep and clean too? And then blog?

Take me, Gwendolyn Alley aka Art Predator! Have Macbook Air, will travel! And blog, tweet, Facebook like mad!

As an established blogger, social media influencer, and college writing professor, I have been a featured speaker at the International Food Bloggers Conference and at the Wine Bloggers Conference, I’ve attended seven Wine Bloggers Conferences in three countries (winning three scholarships), and I’ve led a writing workshop on a Nile Cruise. I’ve also attended WordCamp in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

As Art Predator, I prowl for the aesthetic—that which engages the whole soul, according to Coleridge. Wine, food, travel: I’m always looking for exciting experiences to share with my readers and subscribers.

Plus I’ve never been to Asia! However, I have backpacked from Mexico to Canada. They don’t call me a “wash’n’wear” kind of gal for nothing!

I am thrilled by the opportunity to share with readers the joys of the journey and what I learn about the exciting cuisine of this region. With my background in creative writing, environmental studies, and ecopsychology, I will write with flair about the land and the people, because as lovely as the cuisine may be, it’s the stories that surround them that create a full aesthetic experience which “engages our souls.”

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