kid-friendly & approved pecan mac nut pie-baking a difference no kid hungry

Nov 11


Two years ago, I pledged to add my voice to the national movement of people committed to end childhood hunger . . . NO Kid Hungry!

I have a message to share and it’s heartbreaking.  More than 16 million kids in American live in households that struggle to put food on the table.  This means that one in five children in the U.S. struggle with hunger and cannot rely on having access to the daily nutritious food they need to grow and thrive.

This message is difficult to hear and heartbreaking because it hits close to home, but there is hope . . .

For the last two years I participated in the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry SF Food Blogger Bakesale.  Here is my post from 2011 and 2012.

This year there’s an exciting movement for all bakers!  Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes and Karo® Syrup are uniting bakers everywhere for the Baking A Difference campaign to help the No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

To inspire people to make a difference for No Kid Hungry when they participate in the Baking A Difference campaign, Fleischmann’s® Yeast, Fleischmann’s® Simply Homemade® Baking Mixes and Karo® Syrup have partnered with America’s Test Kitchen and Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker blog, to create baking tips and unique twists on classic recipes to encourage more bakers to bake a difference.

I am extremely honored to be participating in Baking A Difference.  Although, I must confess I’m a little embarrassed.  I was asked to put my spin on Karo’s Classic Pecan Pie.  So why my embarrassment?  Well, because my first taste of pecan pie was a week ago!

I could not do this classic pie justice, unless I understood the components, texture, and taste.  Luckily, my local grocery store sold individual pieces of pecan pie, which I eagerly brought home for some inspection and taste testing.  My first impression: lots of whole pieces of pecans and it looked extremely sweet!  After one bite I was pleasantly surprised.  Although the whole pieces of pecans took some chewing, it wasn’t quite as bad.  The filling was almost creamy with a taste of caramel–not as sweet as I imagined, but still sweeter than I would like.  It really reminded me of . . . mac nut pie!  Now this I know.  It’s famous in Hawaii and especially Kona where I’m originally from.

On the other hand, my kids were immediately turned off.  I had to beg them to try a bite.  Not so much with my son because he loves crunchy chewy snacks like granola, which most often will contain some sort of nut.  He ate it, but complained that the pecans were too much to chew.  My daughter on the other hand, refused to eat the pecans and tasted only a small portion of the creamy filling, which she said was too sweet.

My inspiration was to make a version of this classic pecan pie incorporating my roots from Hawaii, making it more appealing and kid-friendly, and with less sugar and hopefully just a tiny bit healthier.

  • At first I thought about mini-pies or bars.  However, I wanted to stay true to the spirit of the classic pecan pie.  Also, I got an amazing stoneware pie dish as part of my prize pack to help me get started  with my creation.  AND did I mention you too can win an amazing prize pack valued at $75!  What’s in this prize pack?  I think a picture is worth a thousand words (see details at the end of this post on how you can win).


  • I decided to go with a chocolate pastry crust.  After all, which kid doesn’t like chocolate.  Using unsweetened cocoa powder provides that dark rich flavor and is loaded with antioxidants.  I made some slight adjustments to this chocolate pastry crust found on Chef Thip Paine’s website Bonbini!
  • This island girl just had to add . . . macadamia nuts!  It adds a more creamy taste to the pie, but doesn’t take away from the star–the pecans.  I also decided to chop both the pecans and the mac nuts so that the pie wasn’t so intimating for my kids.  See chopped nuts and cute flower design=kid friendly and approved.


  • The original recipe contains a cup of sugar.  I wanted to cut this in half, but I didn’t want to compromise the sweetness that compliments the nuts in the pie.  Therefore, I decided to go with a more natural source of sweetness–dates.  I’ve been using medjool dates in my baking recently since it provides a natural source of sugar, it’s lower in calories, and high in fiber, calcium, and potassium.  The dates mixture compliments another key ingredients in this recipe–Karo Dark Corn Syrup.  These two ingredients combined result in a thick creamy filling with a slight caramel undertone.  Don’t take my word or even my kids who loved it–how about a photo instead?


  • I added a touch of cinnamon, which is known to help regulate blood sugar.
  • I recently had some granola made with coconut oil.  The coconut oil brings out the intense flavor of the nuts that was in the granola.  For this very reason I added coconut oil and also since it’s known for its health benefits.

What do I think of my version of the classic pecan pie?  Let this pie rest in the fridge overnight.  All of the flavors will deepen and will result in a much tastier pie.  If you are a flaky pie crust lover, then you might not like this crust.  It is closer to a tart crust, which I think is appropriate in this pie since it holds up all of the filling and nuts.  Blind baking the crust and the egg wash will ensure that this pie crust doesn’t get soggy.  Because of the cocoa powder in the crust, the dough may be a little fragile to work with.  However, once in the pie pan it is very forgiving so don’t give up on this crust!

More importantly what did the “critics” say?  My kids LOVED it and I think all of their aversion to a nut pie has disappeared.  My daughter loved the creaminess of the pie and said that the chopped nuts were much better!  My son ate it and said it was very good–which I expected.  My husband on the other hand said it was good, period.  I couldn’t get anything further on that “good” feedback, so I left it as that and made my own assumption that it wasn’t quite to his liking.  But of course I can’t win them all.

Here is the recipe with my notes at the end.  Please do not be alarmed at the total prep and cook time.  Most of the prep time is with the crust and waiting for it to chill in the fridge and freezer.  The baking time also corresponds to the blind baking of the crust.  You can make the crust dough a couple of days ahead to save on time.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Pecan Mac Nut Pie (kid friendly & approved)

Serves 8
Prep time 1 hour, 40 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 21 minutes
Total time 3 hours, 1 minute
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly
Occasion Thanksgiving
My take on the classic pecan pie--Kid friendly and approved pecan mac nut pie with a chocolate pastry crust! The addition of mac nuts are from my roots in Hawaii. I am making this a bit healthier and less sweeter by adding medjool dates, which are high in fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium. This pie also supports the Baking A Difference, Share Our Strengths, and No Kid Hungry Campaign.


Chocolate Pastry Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Large egg (one to make the crust and the other for an egg wash on the crust)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoon vodka (if needed and dough seems dry)

Pie Filling

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup medjool dates (pitted and chopped)
  • 1 cup Karo dark corn syrup
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts (chopped)
  • whole pecans and macadamia nuts to decorate the top


Chocolate Pastry Crust
Step 1 In a mixing bowl cream butter, shortening, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
Step 2 Add one egg, vanilla extract, almond flour, and salt. Mix until just incorporated.
Step 3 Add flour and cocoa powder. Mix until it just comes together. If dough appears dry, add a little vodka until the dough comes together.
Step 4 Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.
Step 5 Flour work surface and roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan and gently press into the pan. Trim overhang and crimp edges. Place pie pan with prepared dough in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Step 6 While you wait for the dough, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from freezer after 30 minutes, cover with parchment paper, and blind bake for about 10 minutes.
Step 7 Remove parchment paper with weights and bake for an additional 8 minutes. Beat the remaining egg and use as an egg wash. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust and return to the oven and bake for 3 more minutes. Let cool on a wire rack while you prepare the pie filling.
Pie Filling
Step 8 In a small sauce pan, add evaporated milk and dates. Heat mixture until the dates soften, about 3 minutes. For a smoother pie filling, use an immersion blender to blend the milk and dates to a creamy consistency. Set aside and let cool.
Step 9 In a large bowl, add dark corn syrup, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter and coconut oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Then add milk/dates mixture and mix until incorporated.
Step 10 Fold in pecans and macadamia nuts. Pour filling in the crust and bake pie on a cookie sheet.
Step 11 Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange pecans/macadamia nuts in flower clusters on top, press nuts lightly down to secure. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. Pie is done when the center reaches 200 degrees and when tapped lightly in the center it springs back up.
Step 12 Cool pie on a wire rack for at least 2 hours or refrigerate overnight for deeper pie flavor.


Don't be too alarmed on the total prep and cook time.  Most of the prep time is chilling the dough.  The total cook time represents the baking of the crust and the pie together.  You can make the chocolate pastry dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate a couple days ahead to save time.  This dough is very delicate so be very careful when rolling out.  You can carefully slip a thin cookie sheet under the dough to help transfer the dough to the pie pan.  Once in the pan the dough can be very forgiving and can be patched and smooth out.

The pie filling contains only a half a cup of sugar, but the additional sweetness and darker caramel tones come from the medjool dates.  Once you have the dates heated and soften in the evaporated milk you can either leave it chunky, but I prefer a more smooth consistency.  Use an immersion blender and blend until thick and smooth.

I hope you try this pie . . . but more importantly I hope for NO Kid Hungry.  If you like baking as much as ai love baking, share your version of the classic pecan pie using the #BakingADifference hashtag on Karo® Syrup Facebook for a chance to be included in the Baking A Difference e-cookbook with Joy the Baker at

Like I said there is always hope.  See how you can also hope for No Kid Hungry at their website:

As part of this campaign and to bring awareness to the NO Kid Hungry and Baking A Difference, I was given a baking prize pack to help with my version of the classic pecan pie and another prize pack for one of my readers!  Because of the shipping this giveaway is open to US residents only.


There has been some difficulties with Rafflecopter, therefore I am deleting it from the post.  However, the giveaway is still open until the end of day November 19, 2013.  A winner will be selected at random from the comments left on this post.  Leave me a comment or tell me your favorite holiday pie!  The items below are in the prize pack:

  • Sur la Table Premium 9-inch stoneware pie dish and Fall festive oven mitts
  • Trudeau mini mixing bowls
  • OXO pie server
  • 5 Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade Baking Mixes
  • 1 Karo Light Corn Syrup and 1 Karo Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 Pack Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast, Active Dry Yeast, and Rapid Rise Yeast

I mentioned earlier that a picture is worth a thousand words.  What what about just three words with a simple and hopeful message . . . NO Kid Hungry.


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Comments: 11

  1. manda November 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm Reply


  2. Francine king November 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm Reply

    I love your blogs, your photos are beautiful and your products belong on a bakery shelf <3

  3. Ann C November 11, 2013 at 10:15 pm Reply

    It’s a tie between pumpkin and apple. Love the recipe!

  4. Val Uchida November 12, 2013 at 8:09 pm Reply

    I am so going to try your recipe, I have had Pecan pie before but I always found it too, too sweet to my liking. Thank you always for your inspirations!

  5. Donna McGee November 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm Reply

    I always enjoy your blog, posts, recipes and photos! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Patricia Keawe November 14, 2013 at 8:05 am Reply

    Once again you have created an exotic remake of a pecan pie.. It looks so yummy on your picture.. I can’t wait to try this awesome looking pie.. thank you for sharing your recipes ..

  7. Kris November 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm Reply

    You are amazing! I need to get back into baking again when the baby gets older. Love how you encorperated the mac nuts. I should try this for thanksgiving. What an amazing cause too. Happy Baking!

  8. Susan Christy November 16, 2013 at 7:15 am Reply

    My favorite is pecan, cranberry & white chocolate. YUM

  9. Yo Andaya Lawrence November 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm Reply

    Good old fashion Pumpkin Pie! I’m definitely going to try this for thanksgiving, after all, you put coconut oil!

  10. Jo November 19, 2013 at 8:34 pm Reply

    Every November our family donates a cart full of food to the hungry. If I win, I’ll make sure to bake some for them too. 🙂

  11. Patty Holub November 20, 2013 at 1:25 am Reply

    You are an inspiration!

ai would love to hear from you!