I don't know what it is. I think you have to have been born somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line to eat pecan pie with impunity. I do love it, you understand. Really. It's just that it's so utterly, irredeemably, impossibly rich. I can't think of another thing, right off the top of my pointy head, that contains such intense, concentrated sweetness. And I don't handle that degree of sweetness well.
My tummy is such a wuss. This is the same tummy that thrives on any chili pepper that makes it past my taste buds and begs for more. But offer it something really, really sweet and it throws up its little hands and whimpers, "Don't hurt me." It's just pitiful. That's why, much to my dismay, I have to limit myself to a small portion of pecan pie once in a very great while.
Until today. Today I may have stumbled on the perfect solution, allowing me to have my pecan pie and eat it , too, just as if I owned real estate on Bourbon Street and had a season pass to Dollywood. There I was, browsing around the Tasty Kitchen section at the Pioneer Woman site and I found this deceptively simple recipe for Pecan Pie muffins. Muffins! Who'd a thunk it?
I urge you to click over there and look around but, for future reference, here's a quick take on the recipe. First, you set your oven at 350 degrees fairy height. Then you whisk together 1 cup of chopped pecans, 1 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup of all purpose flour. Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. Lightly beat two eggs and add them to the butter. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry mixture. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring. Fill six muffin cups and bake 20 to 25 minutes. (I did the full 25.) Remove from pan immediately.
EDIT: I forgot to say (because this particular recipe source didn't mention it) but be sure to grease your muffin cups! Your mileage may vary but, personally, if I suspect a potential for serious "sticky," I use solid shortening instead of nonstick spray. If you wait too long to decant the muffins, just pop them back in the oven for a couple of minutes and they should drop out easily. As for using paper liners, I'd suggest not. From what I've read, most folks feel too much of that nice, crunchy crust gets lost when you peel the liners away.
Well, folks, I had a batch of those bad boys whupped up almost before you could shout, "Memphis, Mobile and Baton Rouge!" That's assuming, of course, that you'd even want to wander around your kitchen shouting the names of southern towns like you were practicing to be a train conductor. It's just that they have such a great magnolia-scented sound to them, don't they?
As you can see, the recipe makes a tidy half-dozen muffins, which is just fine for me. Just the perfect size for one to give me a great pecan pie hit without making my tummy snivel and whine. In fact, my tummy insisted I give it a second muffin before it very politely said, "Thank you, that will be sufficient."
Just look at that tender, moist interior, will you? (If you left-click on the photo, you'll get a larger version to view.) I promise you, there is absolutely nothing you need to put on these muffins to enhance them. Nothing. The crispy-crunchie outside and the soft, caramel-like inside are perfect just as they are. Perfect, I tell you. And if anyone around you complains that you're getting the lion's share of the muffins, you'll feel southern enough by then to do a Clark Gable and say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."