I have been writing about a recent list of Worst Supermarket Foods that was published in the newsletter that I get from Eat This Not That. One of the things to avoid was pecan pie, which isn't available in very many brands but is loaded with saturated fat and sugar in any of them. Of course we have just been through the pecan-pie season with the Holidays, and so I was thinking this through when I got the newsletter.
I conclude that if you love pecan pie and want to serve it, you should make it rather than buy it. But since the newsletter was so down on it, would that help? Well, the typical pecan pie is made of eggs, sugar and pecans. The difference between that and the supermarket product is going to be in cost-cutting--thickeners to reduce the use of expensive eggs, high-fructose corn syrup in place of plain sugar, and ingredients to preserve the product so that it gets to your home in edible condition.
So the difference seems to be that when you make your own pecan pie you'll get a pie made of the basic eggs, sugar and pecans, while the store-bought pie is going to have quite a few more ingredients--all of which are legal but not guaranteed to be good for you. Over the Holiday season I bought large bags of pecans and walnuts at Costco near Interstate 10 in Tucson because they were offering such quantity items for the cookie-makers. So if I decided to make a pecan pie all I would have to do is start measuring and make sure that I have pie crust or the ingredients to make it.
I must also mention that pecan pie is so easy to make that it compares to making mud pies--put the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix, then pour into the crust. Moreover, there are a thousand and one recipes available on the Internet. But recently I found a recipe that we might actually consider as an acceptable alternative to pecan pie if you decide that you don't want the whole nine yards of calories. It is a bar cookie based on pecan pie, and obviously there is less in the way of eggs and sugar in it, so if you want to put this recipe in your permanent collection, here is a concrete way to tackle the options.
PECAN PIE BAR COOKIES
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoons (do not substitute)
4 large eggs at room temperature
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 cups light or dark corn syrup such as Karo
1/2 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, place all the crust ingredients. Pulse the processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crust into a rimmed baking sheet the size of a jelly-roll pan or larger. Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and brown sugar. Beat them until the mixture is light and fluffy, and then add the other ingredients and mix once more.
When the crust is done, remove it from the oven and pour the filling over it immediately. Return the bars to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the filling has set completely.
Remove the finished bars from the oven and cool to lukewarm. Cut into bar cookies and serve at room temperature.
This cookie recipe was designed after the famous recipe for Lemon Bars, which calls for baking the crust and then pouring the lemon filling over it and baking once more. This method is very effective in creating a bar cookie that resembles a pie but is not as thick.
The quantity of ingredients here is roughly equal to a pecan pie, but when you prepare it you will see that as the filling spreads out over a jelly-roll pan, the individual cookies will not have the calorie clout that a piece of pecan pie has. Otherwise they are pretty much equal, and your pecan pie lovers ought to love these cookies.