The Nanny Project : Clara's Butterscotch Pie

The Nanny Project.

What is that?

It's an idea I came up with over a year ago. An idea to showcase recipes belonging to the women we call Nanny, or Nana, or Grandma (or whichever names we may have for them).

It's about tried and true recipes. Dishes that, the moment we take a taste, make us weak with nostalgia to be held by our grandmothers - smell their perfume one more time.

It's about women of generations gone by. Women whose lives we may know very little about.

And about how recipes are threads that tie us to the past.

I've been living in Cape Breton for 8 months now. A few weeks ago, I got to chatting with Grace MacDonald, a lovely local woman I've befriended here in Inverness, about Butterscotch Pie.

'Butterscotch Pie seems to be a thing here in Cape Breton', I said to her.
'Oh it is', Grace said, 'Everyone in Cape Breton is raised eating Butterscotch Pie'.
'Do you have a recipe I could try?', I asked.
'If you want a Butterscotch Pie recipe, you have to talk to Carmella. Hers is the best I've ever had', Grace replied.

So I did.

Carmella MacIsaac, a retired schoolteacher, is close friends with Grace and I see her about once a week. The next time I saw Carmella, I rushed over and blurted out,

'Grace says you have a Butterscotch Pie recipe and that it's truly delicious the best she's ever had and I'm wondering if there's any way you would be willing to share it with me oh and would you mind if I post it on my blog?'

She probably thought I was nuts but Carmella graciously agreed to share the recipe with me and also gave me permission to share it with you. 

My goal with The Nanny Project is to share grandmother's recipes as well as stories about the women behind the recipes. For this, the first in The Nanny Project series, I don't actually know anything about Clara other than she was Carmella's husband's mother, and that this, her Butterscotch Pie recipe, is very old (it's been adapted over recent years to be made in the microwave). 


Clara's Butterscotch Pie

9-inch pie crust, baked until golden, cooled (or 36 2-inch pie crusts)

1.5 C milk

1.5 C brown sugar

0.5 C flour

2 egg yolks

Good lump of butter (heaping Tablespoon)

1 tsp vanilla

- heat milk

- mix brown sugar and flour together

- add milk, egg yolks, butter and vanilla

- mix well and cook in the microwave for one minute - whisk well - repeat about three times, whisking well each time - should have a thick consistency after three minutes (mine took five and a half minutes)

- cool - pour into prepared pie shell(s) - top with whipped cream or meringue


I made 36 2-inch pies and every single one was eaten within the day. I gifted half a dozen to a friend and afterwards, received this message:

'Those tartlets were absolutely divine. My husband called them 'one-bites of love'.'

I guess that's a pretty decent endorsement.