3 cups pecans, finely chopped, toasted and divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
Pecan Pie Filling
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
24 pecan halves
Cake: 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; gradually add sugar, beating well.
Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating
until blended after each addition.
Stir in vanilla extract.
Add flour and baking soda to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with
flour. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition.
Stir in remaining 1 cup finely chopped pecans.
Beat egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form; fold 1/3 of egg
whites into batter.
Fold in remaining egg whites. Do not over-mix.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until done.
Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.
Invert layers onto wax paper-lined wire racks.
Brush tops and sides of layers with corn syrup, and cool completely.
Spread half of Pecan Pie Filling on 1 layer, pecan side up.
Place second layer, pecan side up, on filling; spread with remaining filling.
Top with remaining layer, pecan side up.
Arrange pastry garnish on and around cake, if desired.
Pecan Pie Filling: Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a heavy 3-quart
saucepan until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly;
boil 1 minute or until thickened.
Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla
extract. Place a sheet of wax paper directly on surface of mixture to prevent
a film from forming and chill 4 hours.
Pastry Garnish: Unfold piecrusts, and press out fold lines. Cut 8 to 10
leaves from each crust with a 3-inch leaf shaped cutter and mark leaf veins
using tip of a knife. Reserve pastry trimmings. Whisk together egg and water
and brush on pastry leaves.
Crumple 10 to 12 small aluminum foil pieces into 1/2 inch balls. Coat with
vegetable cooking spray, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Drape
a pastry leaf over each ball; place remaining pastry leaves on baking sheet.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden.
Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes.
Gently remove foil from leaves.
Pinch 12 pea-size pieces from pastry trimmings. Place between pecan halves,
Cut remaining pastry into 2 inch pieces; wrap around pecan
sandwiches, leaving jagged edges to resemble half-shelled pecans.
Brush with egg mixture.
Place on baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until golden.
Cool on wire rack.
Yield: 1 (3-layer) cake; about 3 cups filling; 16 to 20 pastry leaves, 12 pecan
To chill filling quickly, pour filling into a bowl. Place bowl in a larger
bowl filled with ice. Whisk constantly until cool (about 15 minutes.)