Antoine's Tree Inspired Pecan Recipes Make Great Edible Gifts

By Stephanie Jane Carter / Photography By Matthew Noel | Last Updated December 15, 2014
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Best in Show: Edible Holiday Gifts

While Texas and Georgia are the leaders in pecan production, they owe the ability to produce them commercially to a slave and gifted gardener named Antoine at Oak Alley Plantation here in Louisiana.

Wild pecans don’t grow true to a parent, so commercial cultivation had been impossible. A. E. Colomb, a horticulturalist, was invited to Oak Alley in 1846 to work on the grafting project.

Antoine assisted him in the work. The horticulturalist’s own attempts at grafting failed and he died two years after arriving in Louisiana. It was Antoine who successfully completed the project.

Antoine’s tree, which produced large, papershell pecans, became even more famous when it was entered into the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. It won Best in Show, became known as the Centennial and a commercial pecan industry was born. Isn’t “Antoine’s Tree” a better name for it, though?

All the pecan recipes here make excellent DIY, edible holiday gifts.

Molasses and Pecan Granola

This granola is great eaten by the handful or topped with low-fat milk. The milk takes on a sweet, nutty flavor from the molasses and spices, perhaps the best “cereal milk” ever.

Spiced Pecans

When I was a young cook at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, I used to eat a variation of these pecans by the handful to sustain me over a long workday. Unlike many pecan recipes of this type,...

Café au Lait Pralines

Who doesn’t feel like royalty when presented with the gift of a pile of pralines? These get a little bitterness to offset the sweetness with the addition of chicory coffee, which we infuse into the...
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