Karo Nut Pie Remembered When I was growing up in the hills of north Arkansas, the favorite pie of most people was the Karo Nut Pie. Restaurants and folks who lived farther south down into central Arkansas served up pecan pie, but we refused to give up our name of Karo Nut Pie. The name, of course, comes from the fact that one of the main ingredients in it is Karo Corn Syrup. While the pie did often use pecans, for many of us the nut of choice was the black walnut. There were lots of tall, wide black walnut trees and every fall they dropped their large, thick-shelled nuts in the greenish brown husks onto the ground for the family’s children to gather up. We would take them into town to the farm supply store to be husked and bagged in one hundred pound burlap bags. We usually had three to four hundred pounds, after shelling, from my aunt and uncle’s trees. One bag would be for my aunt and uncle, one bag for my mother, my sister, and me, and the other two bags we sold to the sheller for a dollar a bag. My sister got one dollar, and I got the other. Wow, did we feel rich! Then would come the late afternoon after supper when Momma would go outside with a hammer and a bowl full of walnuts and would crack them on a large flat rock. She would bring them back in, hand my sister and me each a sewing needle and a smaller bowl, and say, “If y’all will pick me out some walnuts, I’ll make us a Karo Nut Pie.” We did, and she did. It took longer to pick out the nut meats, no easy task with black walnuts than it did to eat the pie they made. These days I most often make the pie with pecans instead of walnuts, and children no longer sell hundred pound bags at the farm supply store for a dollar a bag, but the pie still eats every bit as good. This is a popular pie at holiday time, but it can be rather difficult to slice and serve at events such as company parties. That is why I make a recipe I call Karo Nut Tassies. Instead of placing a rolled out crust into an eight- or nine-inch pie pan and pouring the filling into that, I roll the crust out to a quarter-inch thickness and use a 2-inch biscuit cutter to create small crust circles. I gently press each small circle into the cup of a mini-muffin pan and then carefully spoon enough filling into each cup to come to within a quarter inch of the top of the crust. After baking, I carefully remove the mini-pies and arrange them on a serving platter. They will be a big hit at any family or company function.
Karo Nut Pie
- 2 cups black walnuts or chopped pecans
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 unbaked 9-inch pastry shell
- Combine eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt, and vanilla, mixing well.
- Stir in black walnuts or pecans.
- Pour mixture into pastry shell.
- Bake at 375° F. for 55 to 60 minutes or until set. Yield: 1 9-inch pie.
Variations: If you are making the Tassies or the mini-pies, then bake them about 25 to 30 minutes or until set and crust are browned. Choco-Pecan Karo Pie: Soak the chopped pecans in 3 tablespoons bourbon for 20 minutes. Add the bourbon pecan mixture and 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the Karo mixture, and bake as listed. Be forewarned, this pie is very rich so if you bake it in a 9-inch pie, be sure you serve very small slices. Choco-Pecan Tassies are just the right serving size.