Pecan Pie Filling
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/8 tsp salt
3 TBSP butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the real stuff)
Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a heavy 3-quart saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and boil for 1 minute, or until thickened. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla. Place a sheet of wax paper directly on surface of mixture to prevent a film from forming, and chill at least 4 hours.
Now for the cake....
Pecan Pie Cake
3 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted and divided
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
Sprinkle 2 cups pecans evenly into 3 generously buttered 9-inch round cake pans; shake to coat bottoms and sides of pans.
Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy, and gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Combine flour and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in remaining 1 cup pecans.
Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form, and fold one third egg whites into batter. Fold in remaining egg whites. (Do NOT over mix). Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. I always set timer to go off 5 minutes before to be safe. Silly oven!
Check for doneness with the old toothpick inserted into center test.
Cool in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto the wire racks. Put some wax paper down under the wire racks... Trust me! You'll be glad you did!
Brush the tops and sides of layers with corn syrup, and cool completely. (See, aren't you glad you listened?)
Spread half of pecan pie filling on one layer, pecan side up. Place second layer, pecan side up, on filling, and spread with remaining filling. Top with remaining layer, pecan side up.
Now, every Southern cook knows you don't make a pecan pie when it's raining, right? Guess what it was doing the day I made the filling? Yep, that's right.