Mercy Pie

Christmas is one of those holidays that can be equal parts magic and mayhem.  I love it but it is also a stressful time for a great many people.   Travel delays, stroppy children, dwindling bank accounts, family feuds, maxed out credit cards, roasts gone awry, or a mother-in-law who still corresponds and exchanges holiday cards with your husband’s ex-girlfriend though you’ve been married for 5 years and have a child.  What I’m saying is there are many things to get on your nerves and make you feel grouchy when you want to feel merry.

In 1966 alto saxophonist, Cannonball Adderley, performed a song his pianist wrote.  He gives an introduction to the piece that he delivers like a church sermon:

You know, sometimes we’re not prepared for adversity.  When it happens sometimes, we’re caught short.  We don’t know exactly how to handle it when it comes up. Sometimes we don’t know just what to do when adversity takes over.  And I have advice for all of us.  I got it from my pianist Joe Zawinul who wrote this tune and it sounds like what you’re supposed to say when you have that kind of problem.  It’s called Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.

If you listen you’ll hear that this song has a 20 bar structure with 4 distinct sections just as this pie has 4 distinct sections–pastry, oatmeal, pecans, and pears.  It’s a dessert  that serves the comfort of a crumble in a buttery crust with a pear and oatmeal center that’s soft and treacly while still providing a bit of crunch thanks to the chopped pecans. Basically it tastes of clemency and feels like a hug.  Which is exactly what I want and sometimes need during the holidays especially when I’m crying mercy, mercy, mercy.  So whether it’s a slice for yourself or somebody else, try spreading a little around this festive season.  It might be just what your heart needs to get you feeling the love and magic again.


Merry Christmas, readers, and happy new year!



1/2 recipe of only the best brisée ever

1 cup light brown sugar

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs beaten

3/4 c golden syrup

1/4 c melted butter, slightly cooled

2 tsp vanilla

1 c uncooked oatmeal

1 c chopped pecans

1 c peeled chopped pear



Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4
Roll your crust and place it in your pie dish.  Crimp the edges then set it to chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
In a large bowl combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.  In another bowl combine the eggs, golden syrup, butter, and vanilla.  Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet.  Stir well.
Next incorporate the oats, pecans, and pears.
pears and pecans
Pour the filling into your shell.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.  When it’s finished, allow the pie to cool.  This will give the filling a chance to firm up a bit as the insides are so caramelly and soft.
post-bake crust treacle pool sorry for the flourescent light Marisa with pie

Sweet Potato Pie with Pecans and Molasses

This is the James Brown of pies, y’all.  Which is to say it’s got soul and will make you feel good.  It’s a conflux of flavors that combines two of my favorite pies–sweet potato and sticky pecan.  Never let it be said in my presence that less is more.


For the sweet potato part:

1/2 recipe of only the best brisée ever

approximately 1 lb. of sweet potatoes

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

the zest of an orange

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

1 can of sweetened condensed milk


For the sticky pecan topping:

1 large egg

3 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses

2 teaspoons of light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter

a pinch of salt

1 cup of chopped pecans



While your paté brisée is chilling in the refrigerator, bake your sweet potatoes.  Scrub them, pierce them with a fork, and place them on a baking tray covered with foil.  I bake mine for about an hour at 350ºF/180ºC/Gas4.

pre-baked potatoes

Allow them to cool while you blind bake your pie crust for about 15 minutes at 350ºF/180ºC/Gas4..  When it’s close to finished, brush it with egg white and place it back in the oven for another minute or so.

Next, spoon out the soft caramelized center of the sweet potatoes and add them to a large mixing bowl.

caramelized baked sweet potato


Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Use a whisk to smooth out lumps.


Pour the mixture into your partially baked shell.  Bake for 30 minutes.

During this time, mix together the ingredients for your sticky pecan topping.

After half an hour, remove the pie from the oven.  Evenly spoon the topping over the pie and place it back in the oven.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes.

When the pie is finished, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.  Serve with a whipped cream of your choice.  For this recipe, mine is cinnamon whipped cream.  I highly recommend it.

baked pie with topping sticky pecans cross section slice