Caramel Pecan Pie

1 9-inch pie shell; baked
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup cornstarch
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups milk
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup Pecan Valley Pecan Pieces
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
2. Sprinkle ½ cup sugar in a heavy skillet; place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar melts and syrup is light golden brown. Combine remaining ½ cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy saucepan-gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.
3. Beak egg yolks; gradually stir about one-fourth of hot mixture into yolks, and add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly. Cook stirring constantly, until thickened.
4. Stir in the caramelized sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar melts. Remove from heat; stir in butter, vanilla and chopped pecans. Pour into a baked pastry shell.
5. Combine egg whites (at room temperature) and cream of tartar; beat at high speed of an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually add 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry.
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely before serving.

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