No Flakes Allowed

French immigrants in New Orleans may have invented the pecan pie, but Southern cooks perfected it. Just check out the interpretation offered up by Ouisie's Table [3939 San Felipe, (713)528-2264]. Served warm, this holiday classic is topped with crunchy pecan halves that contrast beautifully with the moist cookielike filling. Half-melted chocolate chips just beneath the surface carry the cookie analogy further, as does the oat crust, which gives the pie a distinct chewiness -- a welcome change from the traditional flaky flour-and-butter crust. Whipped cream and swirls of caramel around the plate's edge add a touch of upper-crust class to this comforting yet elegant dessert, which merges the best of warm-winter flavors and textures.

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Brenda Tavakoli