Let’s get this part over with—Crescent Dragonwagon is a funny name and a real person. Crescent attributes her name to the “pig-headedness and idealism of her sixteen-year old self.” She’s no longer sixteen; the name has stuck, and she’s stuck with the name. So what? Betty Crocker is not – and never was, a real person. Crescent is the real thing, authentic, in fact, and could bake Betty’s booty off any day, especially with this honeyed and browned-butter pecan pie.
A bit about the creator of the recipe before baking:
I first met Crescent in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in the heart of the Ozarks. (Eureka is a funny word as well, although not rib-rattling. It’s rarely seen without an explanation point. None here.) Like Crescent, Eureka Springs is authentic. It’s part hippie, part redneck, part poet, definitely Southern, and delightfully friendly. It’s the kind of place where the many turn-of-the-century homes have wicker furniture on the porches, none of which needs to be chained down to avoid theft.
Crescent, who has gone geographically Yankee on us and now lives in Vermont, spent decades in Eureka Springs, where she first founded Dairy Hollow House, an acclaimed country inn and restaurant with her late husband, Ned Shank, a true Renaissance man. Ned and Crescent eventually co-founded The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow on the original site of the inn.
I spent three idyllic weeks in the state-of-the-art culinary cabin at Dairy Hollow Writers’ Colony in 2002. I came away with many chapters of a novel, successful test recipes, friends and fellow-writers whom I’ve lost contact with, but still admire; a humiliating case of chiggers from my daily walks through the countryside, and recollections of a dinner at Crescent’s off-site home that I can still taste today. The food was fresh, delicious and inspired, but my most vivid memory is my initial surprise that nothing had been prepared prior to our arrival. I was stunned. I, who prep for hours prior to welcoming “company,” could not believe how effortlessly she prepared the meal before her guests, as if this were actually the way it is supposed to be done. Naturally. Congenially. Simply. And downright sneaky easy. Then again, as a prolific cookbook author, Crescent has had plenty of practice.
The Honey of a Pie
If I were to make only one pie this Thanksgiving, which will not be the case, I would choose this recipe. Hands down. This recipe comes from Crescent’s 2003 James Beard award-winning book, The Passionate Vegetarian. The ingredients may appear to be the usual pecan pie suspects, save the honey and the browning of the butter – therein is the magic.
Honeyed-Browned Butter-Pecan Pie
- ½ cup butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped pecan
- One 9-inch piecrust, unbaked
- 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat and cook, watching closely but not stirring, until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Do not burn. Pour browned butter into a bowl and set aside. Blend the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, honey, vanilla and salt in a food processor until smooth. Add the browned butter and blend. Add the pecans and process with just a few quick pulses. Pour the mixture into the piecrust. Bake for 12 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake for another forty minutes. Remove and cool.
Make sure the cook gets some pie.