I love pecan pie. In my family, pumpkin pie is not a necessary part of our Thanksgiving dinner; I'll often make both pumpkin and pecan pie but if push were to come to shove, I know where everyone's heart lies. It's not just for Thanksgiving either… Nope, we're happy to do a repeat just a month later for Christmas.
Have a mixing bowl and beaters chilled for best results. Using an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract and beat until firm. Reserve until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the small pecan halves on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until the pecans are fragrant, stirring the pecans once during baking time, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Let the pecans cool completely, then chop coarsely.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Remove from the heat and mix in the sugars and salt with a wire whisk until absorbed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Cook and stir constantly with a wire whisk until the mixture is hot and looks shiny, about 6-7 minutes, stirring constantly so the eggs don't scramble on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooled, toasted pecans.
Pour the pecan mixture into the pie crust. Place the large pecan halves on top of the filling in a decorative pattern.
Bake the pie until the center feels set but soft when touched with your finger, and moves slightly when the pie is gently jiggled, about 40-55 minutes. (You may need to cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent over browning, or cover the top of the pie with foil.)
Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 5 hours. Dollop whipped cream on top of the pie slices and drizzle with the caramel sauce.