It's no secret the good folks of the Pee Dee region are nuts for pecans. In fact, they admire them so much, each November the city of Florence throws a massive affair called the South Carolina Pecan Festival. Thousands flock to the annual street party to hear live music, participate in fun and games, and, of course, eat goodies made with pecans.
Can it be they've found yet another way for pecan fans to go nuts? Why, yes they have. With the establishment of the South Carolina Pecan Trail, you're invited to spread even more love by following a map of 17 restaurants and specialty shops offering pecan dishes or products.
"More than half of all travelers want to hear about unique dining experiences, and there is an increased interest in local food traditions," said Holly Beaumier, director of Florence's Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The pecan is part of our heritage, and this trail is designed to showcase this segment of our culinary culture."
To take part in this program, which runs through 2019, stop by Florence's Visitors Center or any of the participating restaurants and pick up an official Pecan Trail passport. As you eat your way through the listed establishments, ask to have your passport stamped. Once you've collected the stamps, you're not done yet because, when it comes to pecan love, the CVB believes in reciprocity.
Return your passport to the Visitors Center for some sweet Pecan Trail swag. Show up with four stamps, and receive a nifty metal nutcracker. Eight stamps will get you a drawstring bag and the nutcracker. Present a fully stamped passport and walk away with a T-shirt, drawstring bag and the nutcracker.
Get your stamps and enjoy tasty pecan offerings at these restaurants and specialty shops:
Seasonal butter pecan cheesecake; candied pecan brie-stuffed chicken
Double-chocolate chip pecan muffin
Assortment of baked goods, including cakes, cookies and pastries
White Russian pecan pie
Chicken salad with pecans; apple crisp; chocolate chip cookie pie
Pecans Gone Wild smoked brown ale
Turkey salad with cranberries and pecans
Top Hat pecan scones
Braised oxtail ravioli, local sweet potato puree, Espelette-spiced pecans and sage oil
Sweet potato cheesecake
Pecan (Belgian) waffle, Southern pecan pancakes
Pecan pie martini
Salad with warm goat cheese patty encrusted with local pecans
Wide array of flavored pecans
Bring a little of the trail to your table with this pie recipe from Florence's famous purveyor of premium pecans, Young Plantations:
Young Plantations Basic Pecan Pie:
4 tablespoons (½ stick) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped
9-inch unbaked pastry shell
30 to 50 pecan halves
Cream butter and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients except pecan halves. Pour into unbaked 9-inch pastry shell. Top with 30 to 50 pecan halves. Bake 10 minutes at 375 degrees, then lower heat to 325 degrees and back for 30 to 35 minutes more.
For exotic flavor, add:
* Cream (1/4 cup) for a richer-tasting, less sweet custard.
* Liquor (2 Tbsp. or less; larger amounts can cause curdling and a softer filling.)
* Chocolate (up to four 1-ounce squares or a 6-ounce pkg. of morsels) melted with butter.
* Cocoa (up to 1/3 cup) to the corn syrup for a fudge-like pie filling.