Monday, September 24, 2012

Baking Sweet Memories

I love this time of year. When fall rolls around I get even more excited about baking than I do any other time of the year. Summer ends and the real baking begins. The last months of the year are full of special reasons to spend time with family, share smiles, and bake sweet memories.

Pecan Pies

One of my favorite baking memories is making pecan pies with my uncle. We make them every year around Christmas but I thought I’d share the recipe with you again a little early this year. It’s too good to wait until December.

My grandmother used to make these pecan pies. Her recipe made three perfect pies at a time. She made them every year for family and friends. She loved it. And when she became less able to keep up with the same quantity of pies she liked to make, my uncle Ronnie became the official pie maker. He doesn’t bake and he’s not really a dessert guy but he makes a mean pecan pie. He’s been making them now for well over a decade since my grandmother passed away. He’s continued making them every year for friends and family to carry on his Mama’s tradition. And now I bake with him every year I can and if not I make sure to bake them in my own kitchen. It’s our family’s way of keeping her with us during the holidays.

And the pies are delicious too, so that’s awesome.

Mini Pies

Of course, I had to put my touch on them and make them mini. Major cute. But I still wrap them just like she did. Simple and sweet. I love these refrigerated and I eat them like a giant pecan pie cookie.

Here’s the recipe how my grandmother made it and here’s a link to the original post with step-by-step photos demonstrated by my uncle and a little more about my grandmother.

And keep scrolling for a fun giveaway below…


Mama’s Pecan Pies
Makes 3 pies or about 32 individual pies

16 oz. pecans
2 sticks margarine
16 oz. package light brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon (serving tablespoon, not measuring spoon) self-rising flour
16 oz. bottle Karo light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
6 eggs
3 regular size (not deep dish) frozen pie crusts – or make your own (enough for 3)

  • Melt margarine in the microwave for about 2 minutes or until melted and set aside.
  • Prepare your pecans. Remove any unwanted dark brown pieces from the pecan crevices and shake out pecan crumbs in a colander.
  • Place brown sugar in a large bowl. Work out any lumps with the back of a spoon. If the brown sugar is too hard, you can loosen it up in the microwave. Heat it for a few seconds and it will be fine.
  • Add a heaping serving tablespoon of self-rising flour and stir until the flour disappears into the brown sugar.
  • Add the bottle of corn syrup. Then add 1 serving tablespoon of vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Add melted margarine. Fold carefully into the mixture so it doesn’t splatter. Fold until the margarine is thoroughly worked in and disappears.
  • In a separate bowl, crack open six eggs. Remove the “roosters” and loosely beat the eggs with your spoon.
  • Fold the eggs into the pie mixture until they disappear.
  • Add pecans and stir until completely coated.
  • Remove three pie shells from the freezer at this point and check for cracks. (If you do have a crack, thaw and knead the crack together and refreeze.)
  • Pour the mixture evenly into the three shells. You’ll probably have a little bit leftover in the bowl. Tap tops with a spoon to check consistency and make sure there is the same amount in each pie. Redistribute pecans if necessary to make equal.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350. Cook pies until they swell and then fall. At that point they are done.
  • Remove and cool for about three hours to set. Store on the counter or in the refrigerator depending on how you like your pie. Or eat right away and really warm – the pie just won’t hold it’s shape at this point but it will be amazing.
  • For mini pies: chop pecans, use mini frozen pie shells, removing them from the freezer as needed and bake in three batches on a baking sheet for about 35 minutes each. I’m guesstimating the time. Watch them and make sure they are done.



And now, I’d love for you to share your favorite baking memory.

Holiday or any day.

You could be the lucky baker to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer and a Williams-Sonoma Gift Card.


  • Prize includes a KitchenAid Stand Mixer (valued at approximately $650) and a $200 Williams-Sonoma gift card. Approximate Retail Value: $850. Tasty!
  • Giveaway runs from September 24, 2012 at 12:00 am ET through October 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm ET. Sorry, Time’s Up! Winner will be announced this week.
  • One entry per person. You must live in the U.S. for this one (I’m sorry my international friends) and be 18 or over, too to be eligible to win.
  • To enter for a chance to win the mixer and gift card, just leave a comment on the website and share your favorite baking memory. And if you don’t have one yet, the giveaway lasts long enough for you to bake one. : )
  • One winner will be chosen at random and announced during the week of October 8th in a follow up post here on the site.
  • Note that it may take a few minutes for your comment to display.

Good luck guys and I can’t wait to read your baking memories.


This post is sponsored by Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels, the perfect special ingredient for all of your family’s favorite treats!

christine said...

When I first moved to Virginia for work, I didn’t know anyone in the area and ate dinner crouched in front of my computer watching reruns of friends. But a few months in, an acquaintance named Jenn said she was moving down and I met another girl who worked in the area, Shirley. As luck would have it, we were all looking to move at the same time so we found an apartment together. We instantly clicked and bonded over dinner parties. Jenn was the creative genius and planner behind the dinners, Shirley was the master of the meats and I was the dessert chef. I experimented making my first cream puffs with them. It was Jenn and Shirley who inspired me to make them even more delicious with almond and green tea cream – YUM! Now that I’m back in NY, I miss making dinner with my girls and baking for my Virginia family.

October 8, 2012 05:57 PM
Yvonne said...

Baking at home with my mother – she didn’t like to have sweet things around the house so making homemade muffins was a rare sweet treat!

October 8, 2012 06:05 PM
Harrison said...

Making key lime pie for a potluck with my girlfriend :)

October 8, 2012 06:06 PM
Sosheil said...

I remember the exact August afternoon my mother brought home a brand new black and white Sunbeam Mix Master along with a yellow rubber spatula with an avocado-green colored handle, and a 12-cup aluminum tube cake pan from Goldblatt’s Department Store in Chicago. I was 10 years old, the oldest of 3 kids, and we were off for the summer from elementary school. My sister, brother and I got to sit around the kitchen table as Mom took “the mix master” out of the box. We watched as she washed the white bowl, the twirlies (years later to learn they’re properly called “beaters”) and the spatula. Then she wiped down the mix master. Even though everything was brand new and looked clean, Mom told us you never knew if the person who packed each item had clean hands or not. She was now ready to bake her first cake creation using the new mix master! Earlier that spring one of Mom’s best friends, Barbara who lived across the street, baked us a carrot cake in the shape of a lamb for Easter. We never saw such a thing – it had fluffy white rum-flavored cream cheese frosting, all covered in coconut, with purple jellybean eyes. The cake was generously filled with walnuts, pineapple, raisins and shredded carrots. CARROTS?!!? Holy carrot salad Batman! How could that be? This was the first time us kids ever tasted carrot cake. Barbara also gave Mom her carrot cake and frosting recipe, so now, Mom was all set to bake one herself. We never saw Mom bake anything from scratch or from a boxed mix before, except for preparing Pillsbury biscuits or to defrost a Sara Lee pound cake, which was all magical baking in and of itself to me! I distinctly remember every step Mom took in mixing the ingredients; taking the golden brown cake out of her Tappan range oven; whipping up the frosting, and then sprinkling on angel-flaked coconut like it was snow. That evening after dinner we had a slice of Mom’s carrot cake, her very first “from-scratch” baking attempt that we ever knew of. It was delicious, it was so very delicious! Dad was amazed saying that surely Mom bought the cake at the little bakery next to the A&P. Her cake really looked and tasted that good. Well, Barbara’s recipe card with the carrot cake and rum-flavored, cream cheese and coconut frosting recipe has since been long lost. But, that same recipe still exists today because Mom memorized it all and she baked it many times over the years. It wasn’t until I was in college that Mom actually wrote the recipe down. Now I’m the baker of the carrot cake in the shape of a lamb for Easter with purple jellybeans for eyes, and also for Thanksgiving using that very same 12-cup aluminum tube cake pan. That’s the only cake recipe that Mom and I know how to bake “from-scratch,” and like for Mom, that cake and frosting recipe always turns out to perfection. I will never forget the summer day Mom brought home “the mix master!”

October 8, 2012 06:08 PM
Kelsey said...

my first time cake decorating is one of my favorite memories, I had found a cake decorating book in my grandparents garage when I was 13 and I just started going at it. I have been decorating/baking ever since

October 8, 2012 06:17 PM
SANDRA M said...

Favorite baking memory is with Mom for Christmas and what fun we had decorating all the anise cookies with cinnamon sugar.

October 8, 2012 06:24 PM
Natalie W said...

My favorite baking memories are making Christmas tree press cookies with my mom and brother. Eating the cinnamon red hots while decorating the cookies.

October 8, 2012 06:29 PM
Angela Czaplicki said...

In high school, my friends would pay me $1.00 to bake them chocolate chip cookies. I wondered why they couldn’t do it themselves because baking was like second nature to me. To this day, I’ll never forget bringing in saran-wrapped cookies for my friends!

October 8, 2012 06:39 PM
K. Thomas said...

My favorite baking memory is of a favorite cookie recipe we do every Christmas. I have been baking these cookies every year since before my children were born and now they are carrying on the tradition. The recipe is for Monster Cookies and hopefully it will continue for many generations.

October 8, 2012 07:34 PM
Angela Holmes said...

I remember the first time that I made oatmeal cookies and the intense feeling and memories that were conjured with that most delicious aroma. I was instantly transported back to when I was a very young girl. My Mom would bake late at night, after we were all in bed. But I remember half sleeping to the smell of fresh baked oatmeal cookies.

October 8, 2012 07:59 PM
Cindi Bushnell said...

My Mother was never a cook or baker but I love it and my daughter loves to bake as well so we always bake during the holidays and my favorite part about that is that when my mother was alive she would always ask me to come bring the kids and bake at her house so she could enjoy watching us. And of course she and my Dad were the official tasters

October 8, 2012 08:02 PM
Janet Shuford said...

For Thanksgiving, as a family we love to make LOTS of desserts – pies, cakes, cookies – and we then nosh on them all weekend. Several years ago, I got sick around Thanksgiving and it looked like the desserts would not get made. My 12-year-old daughter Melissa to the rescue, she asked for the family recipes and set to work to make sure we had all the desserts we could ever want. She’s now in charge of ALL piemaking in the family!

October 8, 2012 08:30 PM
Rochelle J said...

My favorite baking memory has to be some of the lessons I learned about Persian food from my grandma before she passed away. Although there was a bit of a language barrier we still understood eachother completely. Even now preparing some of the dishes comforts me, she put love into everything she did and her recipes are a reflection of that! She was a sturdy, independent women, even when she lived in Iran she would make all the business calls in the family! Whenever I bake those meals now and follow her handwritten recipes its like a little piece of her is there with me!

October 8, 2012 08:46 PM
Carolyn Brock said...

I loved baking with my grandmother. She loved baking and when she passed away I made sure one of the things I got her pound cake pan. I will always cherish it! My memories with my grandmother in the kitchen are so special. She always had her apron on and the dishrag in her hand to wipe up spills and keeps things neat and clean in the kitchen.

October 8, 2012 08:47 PM
Bree said...

My fondest memories are with my grandmother who taught me most of what I know about cooking and baking. You know, with the usual a pinch of this, a dash of that, guesstimate the rest…

October 8, 2012 08:50 PM
inimae said...

I think my fondest baking memories are from the holiday season. Every year, my mom would make roll out cookies, and my sister and I would help cut and decorate them.

The cookie cutters were not the sharp, metallic ones – but rather bright red plastic ones that were safe for children to use (and more often than not, didn’t quite slice the dough properly).

We still have those cookie cutters today, and while I’m tempted to “upgrade” to better ones, it’s just not the same. Those are the shapes of my childhood.

October 8, 2012 09:08 PM
Jan A. said...

When i got married, i got ramekins as i gift. I wanted to make the best souffle known to man. So as soon as we return from our Parisian honeymoon. I made souflles for dinner everynight for a month. yummy.

October 8, 2012 09:12 PM
Stephanie Nichols said...

I grew up in Thailand and while i was there i would bake pies to bring in some income. I just started back up again to try to raise money for my parents house. They live in MO and are really low on money so they can’t continue building until they get more money. So i decided that i would sell pies to help them out.The one thing that i need most is a kitchen aid mixer. My mom was going to give her’s to me but they use it so much for their ministry down there that she couldn’t afford getting rid of it. My friend found one at a garage sale and she gave it to me but it’s missing one of the main parts i need and it’s at least 20 years old. I would love a new one but can’t afford it. I love spending time in the kitchen. Me and my mom would spend hours every day working on pies or cookies or cakes and it was the best years of my life. I would get about 10-20 orders per week and so my mom would help me cause i was in high school and had a lot going on. The part i remember most is the bonding time i had with my mom. and now she live far away so i don’t get to see her that much. Anywho i’m babbling now… check out my website for more info.

October 8, 2012 09:13 PM
Angela G said...

Decorating cookies with my mom at Christmas time!

October 8, 2012 09:42 PM
Yelowflower Mo said...

my favorite baking memory was learning how to make chocolate angel food cake with my mom when I was a little girl…..still remember all the tips she shared.

October 8, 2012 09:50 PM
Jenny said...

My favorite baking memory is helping my mom make my wedding cake!

October 8, 2012 10:00 PM
Julie L said...

Every year, my sisters and cousins and I get together to bake Christmas cookies. We live pretty far apart now but always make the effort to get together. Great memories!

October 8, 2012 10:06 PM


October 8, 2012 10:14 PM
crystal s. said...

When I was young my neighbor used to invite me over to bake cookies all night long. It was so much fun!

October 8, 2012 10:15 PM
Jamie Stewart said...

Pancakes in the shape of animals baked by my grandmother on a cold winter day

October 8, 2012 10:20 PM
Felice Rose said...

One year when my youngest sister was about 8, we realized we had never done any holiday baking with her. We spent an evening deciding which recipes we wanted to use and then loaded up on supplies. That next Saturday we got up really early and baked and mixed all day until very late at night. At the end of the day we had 13 types of baked goods, 4 types of homemade icings and lots of cellophane- wraped plates to give as gifts to our family and we were exhausted! Thankfully, my sister still loves baking and even though we’re all miles apart right now, holiday baking always brings our spirits together.

October 8, 2012 10:21 PM
Mona said...

I love to bake for family and friends, especially on special occasions like birthday parties and holidays. I love to see the smile on their faces. My most recent baking memory was making my mother a beautifully decorated, 4 layer heart shaped cake for her birthday. The cake was a hit, and of course she loved it, and I love her so much :-)

October 8, 2012 10:24 PM
Connie said...

My favorite baking memory is w

October 8, 2012 10:30 PM
Lara S said...

My favorite baking memories all have to do with family and the holidays. One of my favorite traditions that I have enjoyed ever since I was a child is decorating sugar cookies for Halloween. My mom would use her pumpkin cookie cutter to make pumpkin shaped cookies and then we would decorate them with orange frosting and an assortment of candies to make Jack-O-Lantern faces. Now today I carry this tradition on with my own children.

October 8, 2012 10:47 PM
Kristy said...

We closed on our new house one week before Christmas.The kids were small and worried about Santa finding us at the new house without a Christmas tree. Immediately after closing we stopped at a store and bought a little 2′ tree just to have something for the kids. When we pulled up to the dark new house and went inside, all the lights came on and all our friends and family were there to surprise us with a 10′ tree.They brought ornaments, lights and cookie dough! We decorated and baked well into the night. The Christmas tree and appliances were the only thing in the otherwise empty house. I will never forget those Christmas cookies.

October 8, 2012 11:01 PM
Connie said...

My favorite baking memory is when I was a young girl and hepping my grandmother bake pies. She taught me how to make a buttermilk pie. She has been gone many years now
but I still remember her laughter when we would bake. I am now a grandmotherand will soon teach my granddaughters how to make buttermilk pie too.

October 8, 2012 11:31 PM
Dani D said...

Watching (and sometimes helping) my mom make my elaborate birthday cakes each year. My favorite one was the year I went to Disneyland with my best friend for my birthday. Before we left my mom surprised me with a giant Matterhorn cake she had made with an abominable snowman coming out of the top of the mountain and everything! My mom is the best baker I know and the best mom ever!

October 8, 2012 11:35 PM
Tara Morse said...

My favorite memory growing up was baking with my mom. For Christmas, she would allow the three of us children to pick a favorite cookie recipe or two from our Cookie Cookbook, and then we would spend a couple of days baking the sometimes six different varieties of cookies. We would then put them in the freezer to enjoy throughout the winter season. And of course, we always got to leave one of each of our favorite cookies out for Santa.

October 8, 2012 11:38 PM
Lore said...

My favorite baking memory is when I learned to make cinnamon sweet bread for the first time. It was winter and I remember the joy of watching the cinnamon blend into the flour, it looked pretty and smelled lovely :) it made a great snack on a cool evening.

October 8, 2012 11:46 PM
Leigh said...

I remember baking holiday cookies with my momma. We would bake a bunch, decorate them, and give them to friends. I hope to continue that tradition as my son gets older.

October 8, 2012 11:47 PM
Tina said...

I love to bake when my extended family comes to town. I made 20 dozen walnut tarts (my specialty) one year.

October 8, 2012 11:50 PM
Amy said...

Making Star Wars short brew cookies with my mum! The Carolers were quite surprised!

October 9, 2012 12:08 AM
Kelsey said...

so glad i noticed this in time! my favorite memory is making christmas cookies with my mom and brother

October 9, 2012 12:52 AM
Lee said...

My favorite baking memory is baking butter cookies with my grandmother for the first time. She instructed me on the importance of the creaming process, and let me in on some secrets she never includes on recipe cards when sharing her family-famous recipe. It has always been amazing to me how those small secrets really make a big difference.

October 9, 2012 01:54 AM
Elizabeth Gary said...

Making truffles & peppermint bark with my nieces last Christmas. We got our hands dirty & they loved it!

October 9, 2012 01:56 AM
Nimmi said...

My favorite baking memory is baking on Sunday morning with my dad. My sister and I would bake a cake or cupcakes before breakfast with him. Licking the bowl was always a highlight as well as getting to eat the cake! Great times.

October 9, 2012 02:25 AM
Bruce Bishop said...

My favorite baking memory is making Christmas cookies with my family when I was young!

October 9, 2012 06:37 AM
Daria said...

My favorite baking time is baking hundreds of cut out sugar cookies and inviting the neighborhood children to come over, decorate them and take them home. I use a recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook that uses powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. It’s fun for me, I don’t stress out from the mess and I get a kick out of the creativity of the kids.

October 9, 2012 11:12 AM
Tina said...

I come from a family of bakers and because of this I have a love for baking. Baking brings me back to the days I used to help in the bakery making dinner rolls and helping with the cinnamon rolls. Baking is a tradition for my family and when my niece is old enough I want to start baking with her. When I have my own children I want to pass on the love for this art to them.

October 9, 2012 05:59 PM
Ivy said...

The first christmas spent with my mother and my sister after years of not seeing them was filled with a lot of carrot cake baking (my mom’s favorite).

October 10, 2012 06:44 PM
Cindy Marlar said...

One of my favorite cooking memories is helping my grandmother make cornbread. She never measured anything. It was a pour and stir method that she cooked by. She had the most wonderful, seasoned cast iron skillet that she made cornbread in every day. It is the best cornbread ever!

October 11, 2012 09:47 AM
Jennifer Mortensen said...

I learned when you have something on your mind the best place to pass the time is in the kitchen. My mother would be in the kitchen baking away when she was stressed helped her threw it and she’d let us taste the batter and help with everything. I use the same strategy as she did it keeps your mind busy and helps you connect and share a passion with your children. My daughter is going on 5 and she loves being in the kitchen wether it be helping me or pretending she’s making some thing along side me.

October 11, 2012 01:42 PM
Diana Li said...

My fav baking memory is actually a baking fail but usually those make for the best stories :) My best friend and I decided to make gingerbread men a few years ago. We used one gourmet mix from Williams Sonoma, and another cheap one from the grocery store. the WS ones came out perfectly, but the other ones came out so puffy they looked obese! =p We laughed so hard our sides hurt.

October 11, 2012 03:56 PM
carmen said...

I only love baking thru the holidays, so I tend to bake a lot during Nov and Dec.

October 11, 2012 04:22 PM
tina hocog said...

Just start bake again it been 8 years.

October 11, 2012 07:04 PM
Chompchomp said...

**sigh** Mum’s really do make the BEST pecan pies. I miss my mums cooking, thanks for the lovely reminder, I only hope I can replicate it with some justice!

October 14, 2012 03:43 AM
Lauree said...

Baking with my children when they were young was always special and fun, but now that they’re grown, we still love to bake and prepare dishes together on holidays, making even more memories.

October 26, 2012 09:24 AM
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