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by Abigail Van Buren

Son in Law Goes Nuts Over Abby's Pecan Pie

DEAR ABBY: This is a first for us, but I just had to write after my experience with your famous pecan pie recipe.

My husband read the recipe in your column last year and asked me to make one for Thanksgiving. We had our family over for dinner, and when I asked if anyone would like dessert, our son-in-law asked for the pecan pie. I served him a slice, and his response was, "D---, this is good!"

Shortly thereafter, without being asked, our son-in-law got up from the table and proceeded to clean up the kitchen. A first! I told him with that kind of reaction I'll make Abby's pecan pie for him EVERY holiday. Thanks, Abby. -- DOROTHY AND JIM SMITH, LE SUEUR, MINN.

DEAR DOROTHY AND JIM: You're welcome. That wasn't the first time this recipe has made people do wonderful and unexpected things. Here it is:

ABBY'S FAMOUS PECAN PIE

9-inch unbaked pie crust

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 heaping cup pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla; mix well. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust; sprinkle with pecan halves.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. (Toothpick inserted in center will come out clean when pie is done.) Cool. If crust or pie appears to be getting too brown, cover with foil for the remaining baking time.

You can top it with a bit of whipped cream, but even plain, nothing tops this!

Serves 8 to 10.

TIP: The original recipe stated that the pie should be baked 45 to 50 minutes in a preheated 350-degree GAS oven. If an electric oven is used, it may be necessary to add 15 to 20 minutes to the baking time. (Begin testing the pie with a toothpick after 45 minutes.)

DEAR ABBY: What does "heavy cream" mean in recipes? I often see the term used, but it doesn't say what it is. Thanks! -- NOVICE COOK IN BENTON, KY.

DEAR NOVICE COOK: I checked with Charlice Makowski of Santee Dairies in Los Angeles. She reports that there are actually four kinds of cream:

-- Light cream, which has not less than 18 percent or more than 30 percent butterfat;

-- Whipping cream, which has between 34 and 36 percent butterfat;

-- Heavy cream, which has between 36 and 38 percent butterfat; and

-- Manufacturer's cream, which contains 38 to 40 percent butterfat and is used by delis and bakeries for items such as cream puffs.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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