Pecan Delight Pie is a favorite dessert at the Piccadilly Cafeteria restaurant. It’s a light, fluffy, creamy pie with a toasted pecan and Ritz cracker meringue crust.
For nearly 80 years, Piccadilly Cafeteria has been serving up classic American food in a casual atmosphere. Over the years, the popularity of certain items on the menu have waned, but Pecan Delight, one of the original pies served at the cafe, continues to maintain a loyal following. T
his pie may look simple, but the complex flavors and textures make it an absolute standout. But what makes this pie unlike anything you have ever tasted is the airy menagerie crust studded with toasted Ritz crackers and pieces of pecans; truly unlike anything you have ever eaten. This Pecan Delight recipe isn’t too difficult to make, and it’s sure to impress, no matter where you serve it.
What is Meringue, and How Can I Make It?
When most people hear the word ‘meringue,’ they immediately think of the crunchy top of a lemon meringue pie. But meringue is much more versatile than that. Pastry cooks use meringue to make everything from tart shells to cookies. While the ingredient list for meringue is short, it does require a fair bit of technique to get right.
The easiest way to make meringue is using a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer with a whisk attachment. If you don’t have either, you can still make meringue using a balloon whisk, but get ready for a workout.
There are two different kinds of meringue, soft and hard. Soft meringue is what bakers use to top a lemon meringue pie or to combine with other ingredients. It is not the kind you want for this recipe. Ritz cracker pecan pies and tarts require hard meringue that can form a solid shell.
To make a hard meringue, first, you have to separate the eggs. The simplest way to do this is to crack each egg into a small bowl and use your fingers to scoop out the yolk. If you prefer, you can always use an egg separator to keep your hands from getting messy. Be sure to check that there are no bits of yolk with the egg whites before adding the whites to the mixing bowl. Repeat for each egg.
Add the vanilla and cream of tartar to the egg whites, and mix on low until foam starts to appear. At this point, start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time. After adding all the sugar, you can increase the speed of the mixer slightly. Continue to beat the egg white mixture until it gets glossy. Check for stiff peaks by lifting the whisk or attachment straight up and turning upside down. The meringue is ready when the peaks don’t lose their shape.
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Tips For Making Pecan Delight
- Don’t use fresh eggs to make the meringue. Older eggs are better, don’t use spoiled ones. You can check by placing an egg in a glass of water. If it floats, throw it away, but you can use it if it stands up on the bottom of the glass.
- Make your own whipped cream. Since you already have the mixer out, why not make homemade whipped cream? You can’t beat the flavor.
Here’s a list of what you need:
- Cream of Tartar
- Vanilla extract
- Ritz crackers
- Whipped Topping (Cool-Whip)
How to Make Pecan Delight Pie
- Place chopped pecans and crushed Ritz crackers on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. They should be light golden brown.
- Remove pecans and crackers from the oven and place them on a paper towel to cool.
- Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees.
- Separate yolks from egg whites. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl.
- Add vanilla and cream of tartar to the egg whites and beat until stiff.
- Slowly add sugar and continue to beat egg whites until very stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved.
- Add pecans and crackers to the beaten egg whites.
- Fold in pecans and Ritz crackers.
- Spray a 10-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Spread the meringue in the pie pan, covering the sides and bottom of the pan, about 1-inch thick. You may have extra meringue (see tip below).
- Hollow out a little hole in the middle of the bottom of the meringue the size of half a dime to help with an even baking of the shell.
- Bake at 275 degrees for 1 hour.
- Turn oven off and let shell dry in the oven for another hour.
- Remove shell and cool.
- When the shell is cool, spread the whipped topping in the shell.
- Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
- Place the pie in the refrigerator to completely chill before serving.
CopyKat tip: If you have any extra meringue, you can make nests and bake them the same way as the crust.
Then you can fill the baked nests with jam, pudding, or fruit. What a great bonus dessert!
Love homemade pies? Try these recipes!
- Eggnog Pie
- Toll House Pie
- Easy Chocolate Pie
- Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
- Ritz Mock Apple Pie
- Millionaire Pie
- Kool Aid Pie
- Rhubarb Custard Pie
Favorite Pecan Desserts and Treats
Piccadilly Pecan Delight Pie
- 3 egg whites room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1/3 cup Pecans (chopped small, lightly roasted for crust)
- 1/4 cup Pecans (chopped medium, topping)
- 1/2 cup Ritz Crackers (chopped in fine pieces, lightly roasted for crust)
- 12 ounces Whipped Topping (Cool-Whip)
- In a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Place 1/3 cup pecans and Ritz crackers for 5 minutes. You want to lightly roast the nuts and crackers. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. The crackers and nuts should be light golden in color. Remove from oven when golden and place on paper towel until cool.
- Add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites and beat until stiff. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat egg whites until very stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Fold in 1/3 cup pecans and Ritz crackers. Place in a 10" pie pan that has been lightly sprayed with a nonstick baking spray. Spread the meringue to the sides and cover the bottom of the pan.
- The meringue will be about 1" – 1 1/8" thick layer in the pie pan. Hollow out a little hole in the middle of the bottom of the meringue the size of half a dime, this will help with an even baking of the shell. If you have any meringue left make a little nest bake the same manner and fill with leftover pudding or fruits. Place in a preheated oven at 275 degrees for 1 hour. Check shell, the meringue should not scorch, it will turn light tan in color.
- Turn oven off and let shell dry in the oven for another hour. Remove shell and cool. When the shell is cool place the whipped topping in the shell and sprinkle with 1/4 cup broken pecans. Place in refrigerator to completely chill before serving. Meringue will whip fluffier and be fuller when prepared at low humidity.