Monday, November 23, 2009


This appetizer has been part of our Thanksgiving dinner for decades.

The original recipe by Hellman's mayonnaise  used 12 oz cream cheese, 1/4 cup Hellman's, and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese.  However, 8 oz cream cheese is usually plenty, and I don't actually measure anything else.  I use about the same amount of herbs for the smaller amount of mix though, since my taste, and I think ours in general, is for stronger flavors than it was 30 years ago.  I've substituted lighter cream cheese and mayo, too, and find it's just as good this way:

8 oz light cream cheese (Neufchatel - nuke for 30 seconds or so if necessary to soften)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
<1/4 cup Light Hellman's mayo (one serving spoon full)
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

I try to make this near the time I'll serve it, since the pecans tend to get punky if they absorb moisture from staying in the cheese mix overnight in the fridge, and they're easier to insert into a room temperature mixture anyway.  Once youve done it it's very fast to make.

Shape into an airfoil/teardrop.  Once the pecans are inserted it will magically look like a pine cone even if your original teardrop did not.

Start inserting whole pecans at the tip, and shingle each successive row. The pecans will be horizontal at the tip and vertical at the back.  This will happen naturally.

The biggest difficulty with making this is finding enough good pecans.  I mail order nuts from Sunnyland Farms in Georgia.  The nuts aren't the cheapest, but they are outstanding.  Then if you always have the other ingredients on hand, which I do, you can whip up an appetizer to bring somewhere with a half hour's notice.

I usually serve extra pecans and/or crackers, because there's more mix than the assembled pecans will use up.

I don't worry a lot about leaving this out at room temperature for several hours atan event, but I keep the leftovers in the fridge.


  1. What a lovely creation - and easy too.

  2. @Hallie - the mix is delicious, and it's great as a celery filling or as a dip with veggies.

  3. How adorable! I love it. Now I have to find an excuse to make one. Some sort of a party! Hmmm, let's see... isn't Easter coming up? Sounds like a plan to me! ;)

  4. Sonia - glad this looks appealing. For Easter you might check out the eggs in nests, too (under Holiday).

  5. Oh Kathy! I think this is just too cute!