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Aunt Ethel's Old-Fashioned Caramel Pie Recipe

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Jo loves to cook and has been doing so for family and friends for many years. She enjoys sharing her family recipes with others.

Old-Fashioned Caramel Pie

Old-Fashioned Caramel Pie

Aunt Ethel's Legendary Caramel Pie

If you travel across Tennessee on Interstate 40, you'll come to an exit for Buffalo. It's just past the exit for Bucksnort (where you can stop at a little cafe and get a fried baloney sandwich). Once upon a time, you could stop at a log cabin restaurant at the Buffalo exit and order a slice of delicious caramel pie. It was made by Aunt Ethel, the cook at this little restaurant.

The log cabin restaurant is still there, but it has changed ownership—and Aunt Ethel is long gone. She passed away years ago and had been retired years before that.

I never knew Aunt Ethel. But I know her daughter, and I know her nephew well since I am married to him. Even Aunt Ethel's daughter did not have her recipe for caramel pie, but before Aunt Ethel died, my husband took his mother for a visit to Aunt Ethel's house. When they called to tell her they were coming for a visit, they requested that she have one of her caramel pies for them to sample.

While they were enjoying the pie, John asked her for her recipe.

When they left Aunt Ethel's that day, John's mother told him that the recipe had actually been her mother's, Aunt Ethel's mother-in-law. She was a little peeved that Aunt Ethel had actually taken credit for the recipe since it had come from her mother. John wrote on his recipe, "Aunt Ethel's caramel pie, through Granny Duncan (Mary Lavonia Magdelene)." But Aunt Ethel was the one who had made the pie famous. She perfected the pie and cooked it many times over her tenure at the local restaurant, and this is the recipe she gave him that day.

Aunt Ethel's Caramel Pie, Through Granny Duncan (Mary Lavonia Magdelene)

Aunt Ethel's Caramel Pie, Through Granny Duncan (Mary Lavonia Magdelene)

Ingredients

  • 1 baked pie crust
  • 1 1/2 sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. In medium sauce pan combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, salt, and all-purpose flour. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Add milk to pan and cook over medium heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir small amount of mixture into slightly beaten eggs yolks.
  3. Return to heat and cook until bubbly, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Pour remaining 3/4 cup sugar into a cast iron skillet. Cook on medium high or high heat, stirring constantly with a knife until sugar caramelizes. Sugar will begin to melt slightly and turn brown. Watch this carefully to be sugar does not begin to burn.
  5. Pour caramelized sugar into thickened ingredients in saucepan. Stir until smooth and pour into baked pie crust.
  6. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, one teaspoon at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla.
  7. Spread meringue over pie and bake at 350°F for 10–15 minutes, or until brown.

Rate This Recipe

This Pie Is Worth the Effort

This pie, I discovered, is a little tricky to make. I had to make several attempts before I was successful, but it is now one of our favorite desserts.

Aunt Ethel's instructions were a little vague in places, so I experimented to get the desired results. I have made a few clarifications in places to the original instructions but am still giving full credit to Aunt Ethel (through Granny Duncan) for this recipe.

© 2017 Jo Miller

Comments

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 24, 2019:

I do not think I have ever had anything like this. It sounds like something my tastebuds just might like. Thanks for sharing. Angels are headed your way this evening. ps

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on April 11, 2019:

It's delicious. Which reminds me, I haven't made this in awhile.

Dianna Mendez on April 11, 2019:

Oh my, I am sold on this recipe idea! It reminds me of lemon meringue which is another favorite of mine. Can't wait to try it.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on January 28, 2019:

Thank you, Hayley for stopping by to comment and welcome to HubPages.

Hayley Dodwell on January 21, 2019:

Sounds delicious! I cant wait to try this recipe! Thank you Jo!

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on September 01, 2018:

Excellent article, Jo. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe. We love pie of any kind around here. I know we will enjoy this caramel pie. I love the story that goes with the dessert.

Love the names of the towns of Buck Snort and Buffalo, too.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Much respect and admiration,

Tim

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on August 14, 2018:

Jo -- you are always welcome. I look forward to reading your hubs myself. And thank you for the recipe and for telling me that you will be reading my hubs. That made my day.

God bless you.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on August 14, 2018:

Thanks, Kenneth. And thanks for the follow. Looking forward to reading some of your hubs.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on August 13, 2018:

Jo -- what a tremendous hub and what a delicious recipe. Thank you for publishing such a wonderful dish. And since it is getting near to fall and the holidays coming, This recipe would be great at any event.

Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Kenneth

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 21, 2018:

Shame on me if I have not read this before...interesting back stories makes it even more appealing. I usually take something to coffee hour every Sunday so I can see this in our near future. Pinning to 'pie pie pie' Angels once again on the way ps

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 10, 2018:

Looks and sounds delicious. I love caramel but started a diet today. It will go in my recipe box, though and I will have to try it when I am on break from starving!

Thank you.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on March 04, 2018:

I hope you get to try this pie, Mary. It is quite good. Heating the sugar is a little tricky. Use a cast iron skillet if possible.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on March 04, 2018:

This looks like my kind of pie. I have never heated sugar before like this before but am willing to give it a whirl.

Like all custard pies, it is a great way to use up extra eggs.

Thanks to you, Aunt Ethel and Granny Duncan.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on December 14, 2017:

Hope you get to Buck Snort and get to make this pie. It is delicious.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 13, 2017:

Well I could like to head on up to Buck Snort and walk down memory lane with folks who call it home now. So glad Aunt Ethel made the pie so memorable even it is a bit controversial. :D I will have to give this a try. Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on December 13, 2017:

Well I could like to head on up to Buck Snort and walk down memory lane with folks who call it home now. So glad Aunt Ethel made the pie so memorable even it is a bit controversial. :D I will have to give this a try. Angels are on the way to you this evening. ps

John Murphree from Tennessee on October 11, 2017:

This looks and sounds, in the recipe, like a great pie to me.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on October 10, 2017:

Hope you enjoy the pie, Dianna. Thanks for stopping by.

Dianna Mendez on October 06, 2017:

This will definitely make its way onto our table soon! I enjoyed your story about Aunt Ethel's claim to this recipe. That last photo says it all for me!

DDE on October 05, 2017:

The caramel cake look delicious. Will try this winter.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on September 27, 2017:

Thanks a bunch!!!

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 27, 2017:

Jo, I'm back to Flip and Pin this! The cat's out of the bag on ole Aunt Ethel.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on September 27, 2017:

Hi, John. Thanks for stopping by. The pie is delicious.

John Murphree from Tennessee on September 26, 2017:

This really looks good in your pictures. I am sure that it is as good as it tastes. It does look a little tricky to me in preparing it.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on September 18, 2017:

Thanks, Larry. It is wonderful.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on September 18, 2017:

Looks wonderful.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on September 18, 2017:

Thanks, Nancy. It is a little difficult to make but well worth the effort.

Nancyhinchliff on September 15, 2017:

Wow, This sounds delicious. Can't wait to try it. Thanks.

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on September 14, 2017:

O'Charley's has caramel pie on their menu. It's nothing like Aunt Ethel's however. I had never had this type of caramel pie either until I found John and Aunt Ethel's recipe.

Thanks for stopping by, Bill.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 14, 2017:

I'm one month shy of sixty-nine, and I've never heard of caramel pie. It sounds delicious, Jo! thanks for sharing

Jo Miller (author) from Tennessee on September 13, 2017:

Thanks Flourish. This is one of our favorite pies. I have heard the story of the pie often from my husband and his family.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 13, 2017:

Some of the best recipes have to be eeked out of proud cooks like you and your husband did, but she did everyone a great service in sharing the recipe with you. I love the backstory and can't wait to try this pie. Yum! 5 stars!