Sometimes You Feel Like Nut, Try a Pecan

If there is one nut (other than my husband) associated with the holidays it’s the pecan. Pecan pie, pecan rolls, coffee cake with pecans, chicken with pecans and just plain old pecans in a bowl with the other nuts (ok, let’s keep the rest of my family out of this)



Pecans are heart-healthy and can actually help lower your cholesterol.

According to two medical studies (Loma Linda University and Texas A&M University), a heart-healthy diet, such as American Heart Association’s Step I Diet, is more effective in lowering cholesterol when pecans are added, even though the pecans added more total fat to the diet. A pecan-rich diet also increased levels of dietary fiber, and essential nutrients such as thiamin, magnesium, copper and manganese. They’re a good source of potassium, thiamine, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, niacin, folic acid, iron, and vitamin B6, as well  a good source of fiber.

Pecans are available in a variety of ways. They come in shells and out of shells. You can get them vacuum-packed in jars, sealed in plastic bags, or packed in cans. For the freshest and most flavorful in shell pecans look for nuts that are heavy for their size and don’t rattle when shaken. There shouldn’t be any cracks or holes in the shells. When you buy shelled pecans in bags or cans, look for an expiration date. Shelled pecans absorb odors and turn rancid quickly, and should be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Pecans also freeze very well, so if you buy more than you can use right away, store them in a moisture-proof plastic bag in the freezer.

One of my all time favorite dishes is pecan pie. The following recipes for pecan pie (and a few other pecan treats) should go a long way to satisfying everyone’s sweet tooth this holiday season.

PECAN CRUSTED CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE PIE

This shouldn’t be prepared just for the holiday – it’s great all year long! Garnish with any seasonal fresh berries.”

2 cups chopped pecans

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon brandy

Preheat the oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix together the pecans, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter and miniature chocolate chips. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool completely.

In a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butter. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until thick and pale using an electric mixer, at least 3 minutes. Stir into the melted chocolate and set it back over the pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan. When warm, stir in the remaining chocolate chips until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Pour over the truffle filling. Refrigerate for several hours to set before serving. Serves 8.

 recipe submitted by Carlie Matterson Chicago

CARAMEL PECAN PIE

A yummy pie made with melted caramel candies, butter and pecan halves. Chewy, gooey and rich!

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

36 individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup milk

3/4 cup white sugar

3 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan over low heat, combine caramels, butter and milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt. Gradually mix in the melted caramel mixture. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool until filling is firm. Serves 8

CHOCOLATE BOURBON PECAN PIE

Sweet, chocolaty, crunchy, and down-right decadent.

1 (9 inch) pie shell

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325. In a small saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter or margarine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter or margarine melts and sugar dissolves. Cool slightly. In a large bowl combine eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Slowly pour sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until set and golden. May be served warm or chilled. Serves 8.

PECAN AND CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO PIE

This heavenly pecan pie promises a bit of chocolate and espresso in each bite. Bake, cool and serve with scoops of chocolate or mocha ice cream.”

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

5 tablespoons ice water

1 1/3 cups pecan halves

4 eggs

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pinch salt

1 cup light corn syrup

To Make Crust: In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt and mix well. With two knives or a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is in fine crumbs. Gradually add just enough ice water so that the pastry holds together. Form into a ball, and then flatten into a disk. Handle as little as possible. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 to 2 hours. Roll out crust on lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin. Turn crust over frequently and lightly re-flour work surface and rolling pin as necessary. Crust should be rolled into a circle about 13 inches in diameter. Fit crust into an ungreased 9 inch pie plate of heatproof glass; form a high-standing rim, trimming excess from edges and pinching or fluting rim decoratively as desired.

Preheat oven to 400. Thoroughly prick crust all over with fork. Chill for at least 10 minutes while oven heats. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes (crust will not brown). Remove to rack and cool completely before filling. Leave oven at 400. Break up pecan pieces and sprinkle them evenly on the bottom of the cooled pie shell.

To Make Filling: In a small bowl beat eggs to combine. Add espresso powder and beat to mix. Let stand at least 10 minutes, beating occasionally to dissolve espresso. In a medium bowl cream softened butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in cocoa and salt. Add egg/espresso mixture 1/3 at a time, beating after each addition, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup. This mixture will be like custard and it will be thick. Pour mixture slowly over pecans in pie shell. If any pecans do not get completely covered by the filling, submerge them until they do. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes; with toothpick or tip of sharp knife, pierce any remaining air bubbles (during this standing period, pecans may rise to top of pie).

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat from 400 to 350 and bake 33 to 35 minutes longer (or until edges are cracked and risen but pie center still quivers slightly when pie is shaken gently). Do not over-bake! If pie begins to brown excessively, cover top lightly with foil. Remove from oven; cool on rack before serving. Serves 8.

Submitted by Laurie Schwartz of Fort Wayne

PECAN PRALINE PIE

Printed from COOKS.COM

1 (9 inch) pie crust (graham cracker or butter cookie)
1 (9 oz.) Cool Whip
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 c. flake coconut
1/2-1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 stick butter
1 jar caramel topping

Melt butter; stir in coconut and pecans and toast. Watch carefully or will burn before you know it. Mix Eagle Brand milk and cream cheese thoroughly; fold in Cool Whip.

Pour half of mixture into pie shell. Drizzle 1/2 the jar of caramel topping over mixture. Pour remaining pie filling over caramel, then remaining caramel topping over the top of pie. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and pecans. Cover and put in freezer for at least 12 hours before serving.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY PECAN STREUSEL SQUARES

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oats (either kind)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, chilled
1 cup raspberry preserves
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup broken pecans
1/2 cup white chocolate pieces

Heat oven to 375. In a bowl combine the flour, oats, sugars, baking powder and salt. Cut in the margarine until mixture is crumbly. Set aside 1 cup of mixture for streusel topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of greased 9-inch square baking pan or 7×11-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the preserves over the crust. Sprinkle the top evenly with chocolate chips and pecans. Sprinkle the remaining streusel mixture over the  top, gently patting it down. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Drizzle with melted white chocolate. Let chocolate set before cutting bars. Makes 16 squares.

PECAN CLUSTERS

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups broken pecans
1 1/2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a cookie sheet and set it aside. In the bow of an electric mixer cream together the butter or margarine and sugar. Add the egg, vanilla, melted chocolate and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and stir the flour mixture into the cream mixture. Add the pecans. Drop from teaspoon on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

FROZEN BUTTER PECAN CRUNCH

Use your own favorite ice cream in this delicious frozen dessert. More frozen desserts and ice cream recipes below.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup melted butter

2 package (3.4 ounces each) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cups milk

1 quart butter pecan ice cream, softened slightly (or other similar ice cream)

8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

2 Heath candy bars (1.4 oz. each), crushed

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Pat graham cracker mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9 X 13 inch baking pan; chill thoroughly in the freezer. In a large mixing bowl, beat pudding mixes and milk until well blended, about 1 minute. Fold in the softened ice cream and whipped topping; spoon over chilled crust. Sprinkle with crushed Heath bars. Freeze. Remove from freezer about 20 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.

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