Skinny Bourbon Pecan-Date Bars

20161114_103250Halloween has come and gone in the blink of an eye and now Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Two quintessential Thanksgiving treats found on almost every family’s Thanksgiving table tend to be Pecan or Pumpkin Pie. I try to make one or the other every year and I also like to reinvent old flavors into new favorites. These bars are a re-invention of the traditional pecan pie. In the South, pecan pie traditionally gets spiked with a bit of bourbon but dates are usually not in the mix. The date palm across the street from our house currently dropping fruit gave some inspiration for the non-traditional addition and I must say it was a success.

20161114_103003One thing I dislike about pecan pie (or inspirations derived from it) is the mess. These bars are no different. They are sticky messes of deliciousness so I suppose it is all worthwhile in the end. If you do decide to prepare these keep in mind that they are just as sticky as a pecan pie and they can fall apart like a pecan pie if not allowed to properly set. In order to avoid some of the mishaps that may come from this I have a few simple suggestions. First, plan on making these at least a day in advance. This is beneficial in two ways. The first is that the bars are much easier to cut when they have had a chance to chill. The second is simply saving you time on Thanksgiving to devote to other items you can’t prepare in advance.

20161114_102718Unfortunately, sometimes when we solve one problem we ultimately create another. That is the case with chilling these bars. When they are chilled, they set up properly and allow you to cut them easily and uniformly. However, they are extremely hard to separate from the pan when cold. I do have a solution to this minor issue. Simply make sure that after these bars have cooled completely, run a knife around the outer edge to loosen the bars from the pan but refrain from cutting into portions before chilling. Chill the bars at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Once fully chilled, you can cut into portions and not struggle to cut the edges from the pan when they are rock solid. The edges should slide away from the pan easily. Enjoy!!!

Skinny Bourbon Pecan-Date Bars

Crust Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ oz. All-Purpose Flour (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup Chilled Butter; cut into small pieces

Filling Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Light Corn Syrup
  • ¼ cup Molasses
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ cup Egg Substitute
  • 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ½ cup chopped pitted Dates
  • 1/3 cup Chopped Pecans; toasted
  • Toasted Whole Pecans; for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Coat an 11 x 7 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. To prepare the crust, whisk the flour, brown sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the butter pieces to the bowl and cut in using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture looks like coarse meal. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is light brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. In a large bowl whisk together the corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar, egg substitute, flour, bourbon, vanilla, salt, and egg. Stir in the dates and chopped pecans. Pour the filling over the prepared crust. Place the whole pecans on top of the filling to create a presentable pattern. Bake bars for 35 minutes or until set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Use a knife to separate bars from edge of pan. Cover and chill 3 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Bar)

 

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Weight Watchers: 5 Smart Points, 3 Points Plus, or 2 Traditional Points

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JULIE GRIMES BOTTCHER
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

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Skinny Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

1Hello friends! I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving this past week enjoyed their holiday with friends, family, and lots of good food. I know our family had a delicious feast and this cheesecake was just one component. I was meaning to share this with you all sooner, however life, as usual, got in the way. I know that Thanksgiving has already passed, which happens to be the time most families enjoy pumpkin flavored desserts, but this was just too good not to share.

I have loved pumpkin pie since I was a kid. It was the only pie I would crave besides the Chocolate Ambrosia our family would order at holidays from Bishop’s (a local restaurant that has since closed). I think the fact that my mom couldn’t eat it, therefore it was never in the house, made me crave it that much more. As much as I love pumpkin pie, sometimes you just want to try something new without sacrificing the same flavors you know you love. This cheesecake is the perfect solution to that problem. I get the same pumpkin pie flavor I know and love, but with a new texture that excites the palate and broadens once restricted horizons.

2I am not ashamed to admit that I am not the biggest fan of preparing cheesecakes. I despise having to use hot water baths as I always manage to burn myself and the fact that the cooked cheesecake then has to chill before I can dig in makes the extra effort seem not worth it. My intrigue of trying a pumpkin cheesecake pushed me past my comfort zone and I have to say I was quite surprised with its success. Not only did I not burn myself but it was a lot easier to prepare than expected. The final product came out rich, creamy, and full of pumpkin essence. In the past I have managed to turn what should have been perfect cheesecake into dry, flavorless blocks of blah that only the trash can would enjoy consuming. Also I know my recipe is a success if the hubby approves since he is not big on sweets at all.

Let me not forget to mention that this recipe is a skinnier version than most. A traditional pumpkin cheesecake will run you as much as 700 calories and over 30 grams of fat for a SINGLE wedge. Sure this is not my lightest “skinny” recipe but it sure as heck is a lot lighter than most without compromising flavor. One wedge of this cheesecake comes in at only 262 calories and 7.8 grams of fat. That makes for a big difference to those watching waistlines. If you desire to save even more calories and fat, skip out on the dollop of whipped topping, as the cheesecake is still delicious on its own.

3Although the typical pumpkin consuming holiday has since passed, I know many also offer pumpkin pie at Christmas as well. If you are one of the many that do I highly recommend trying this recipe. If you don’t, make it a point to make this as a special treat for your household to try rather than waiting until next year. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Skinny Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 1 Reduced-Fat Graham Cracker Pie Crust (Keebler Ready Crust)
  • 8 0z. Reduced Fat Cream Cheese (1/3 less fat); softened
  • ½ cup Sugar (preferably natural cane but you may sub granulated)
  • ¼ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed (preferably organic)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Unsweetened Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tbsp. Bourbon
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Allspice

Whipped Topping Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Heavy Cream; kept cold
  • 2 tsp. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

Preparation:

  1. For the cheesecake: Preheat oven to 350°. Bake graham cracker crust according to package directions or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer set to medium speed, beat the cream cheese and sugars together until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree and eggs, beating until the mixture is combined (scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed). Add the bourbon, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust.
  3. Place the cheesecake pan into a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with approximately 1 inch of hot water. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until the center barely jiggles when you tap the side of the pan. Remove from the oven and roasting pan. Place on a wire rack to cool completely. Once the cheesecake has cooled completely, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours but preferably overnight (gives flavors time to develop).
  4. While the cheesecake chills in the refrigerator, prepare the whipped topping. In a small bowl, add the heavy cream and powdered sugar. Beat by hand or with a hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold in vanilla. Cover and chill until ready to serve with cheesecake.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Cheesecake Wedge & 1 tablespoon Whipped Cream)

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

Weight Watchers: 5 Points or 6 Points Plus

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: BILL JAMISON & CHERYL JAMISON
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2015

Boozy Pecan Pies

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner and as everyone is buying their turkey, green beans, and sweet potatoes to prepare the holiday’s traditional dishes, I can’t help but get caught up in thoughts of one thing… Pie, Pie, and more Pie. As a kid we always had a large spread of food at the table but it was the end of the meal that made me so excited. My family always had many different types of pies to choose from which made me ensure I left a shred of room to try slices of a few different ones.

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The most famous pie of the season and go to at Thanksgiving is undoubtedly Pumpkin. It is a flavor that seems to only have a rightful place this time of year. Everyone can’t wait for the time of year to come around so they can enjoy pumpkin again, but at the same token are very quick to dump the thought of Pumpkin once Thanksgiving ends, trading it for frosted sugar cookies and peppermint, even though pumpkin is still readily available in our modern market.

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The pie that takes a backseat to Pumpkin but manages to sneak onto most family’s Thanksgiving spreads is Pecan. I never cared for Pecan Pie growing up. It was always too dry and overly sweet. A few years ago I thought I would give the pie a try having more grown up taste buds. I did enjoy it more than I did as a kid but it still couldn’t beat out Pumpkin for my fall favorite pie. I made sure not to burn the thing but it still had way too much sweetness.

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A few more years passed and here we are today. This time I decided to use a more traditional recipe for Pecan Pie that did not use the processed, overly sweet Karo Syrup that originally marketed the pie to fame. The traditional style recipes of the south uses less processed syrups like sorghum and cane syrup. Sorghum is made from cereal grass and cane syrup comes from boiled down juice of the sugarcane plant. These aren’t widely available unless you scour organic markets or live in the south. Hence why Karo takes the place of these since it is more affordable and widely available. It is very easy to replicate the old-fashioned flavors using molasses, brown sugar, and pure maple syrup.

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To kick the pie up a notch and stray from tradition just a wee bit I added a touch of Bourbon. You can use any type of whiskey but my boozy preference is Bourbon. Be sure to use mild or regular molasses and not the more potent blackstrap variety. Also be sure not to use imitation maple syrup over pure as the results would be similar to the Karo syrup recipes since both are filled with corn syrup as main ingredients and produce overly processed, intensely sweet final products. You need the pure maple syrup to give complexity and compliment the earthy tones of the toasted pecans.

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As an option you can serve this with some whipped cream dolloped on top. If you really want to drive home the boozy flavor you can even add a bit of bourbon or other whiskey to the whipped cream. Add about 2 tbsp. of Bourbon per cup of heavy cream. Whip to stiff peaks with 1 tbsp. of light brown sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla. Keep refrigerated until ready to use or about 4 hours. This recipe makes 3 mini pies. You will need 3 mini tartlet pans.

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Boozy Pecan Pies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Maple Syrup
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¼ cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ tbsp. Molasses
  • 1 tbsp. Bourbon
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • ¾ cup Pecans; toasted & chopped
  • 1 Sheet of Rolled Pie Crust; such as Pillsbury

Formula:

  1. Unroll one sheet of pie crust over the first tartlet pan. Gently press into bottom and sides. Gather remaining dough and re-roll. Repeat with the remaining two tartlet pans. Place all three prepared pans in the refrigerator and chill crust for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 450°. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the maple syrup, sugar, cream, molasses, and bourbon. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove the syrup mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Once the mixture has cooled, whisk in the butter and salt until combined. Quickly whisk in the egg yolks until incorporated.
  3. Remove the tartlet pans from the refrigerator and place on a baking sheet. Divide an even amount of pecans between the three tartlet pans and scatter pecans into each pie shell. Carefully pour the syrup mixture over the pecans. Place the pies in the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 325°. Bake until the filling is set. The pie center will still jiggle slightly when the baking sheet is gently shaken, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool pies on a rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until completely set, about 3 hours but no longer than 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Bourbon whipped cream recipe can be found in the final paragraph above.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM DIANE UNGER

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013

Pecan Praline Pie

Around the holidays, those of us in the south can’t resist having a pecan pie on the table along with, of course, the traditional Pumpkin. Pecan pie, although a holiday tradition to most families nowadays, is a rather new addition to the pastry world. The oldest formula for pecan pie dates back about 70 years, and is most likely a result of the Karo Corn Syrup companies marketing strategy. Too bad Goerge Washington and Thomas Jefferson never realized they had another use for all of those pecans grown on their Virginia estates. Traditionally, pecan pie should be presented to the table with a perfectly golden crust and rich, buttery center. Sadly, many people are forced to choose the storebought variety when strapped for time, which is often dry, burned, and overly chewy to the point of resembling a nutty taffy.

 So let’s begin constructing the pie of your families dreams, just in time for Christmas. The first crucial step you must make is to select the proper formula for your pie crust. Most people will select flaky believing it will lend them the rich, flaky crust they love but you will end up with a soggy mess. This is because in a flaky pie dough formula, there is more butter added to create the desired flaky finished product. But flaky pie doughs do not belong on the bottom crust of a pie, only the top. For the bottom, you must select a mealy pie dough. In a mealy pie dough formula, less butter is added so that when the pie bakes, the juices excreted from the filling will be absorbed into the crust. This creates a more flavorful crust and also maintaining its structure. Mealy pie doughs have the ability to absorb extra moisture so they prevent the dreaded soggy bottom crust.  Once you have selected a mealy pie dough formula, lets swap out the granulated sugar in exchange for brown sugar and use all butter instead of shortening and butter. This will lend the praline flavor to the crust.

To ensure a proper filling, begin by cooking it on the stovetop before pouring it into the crust. To prevent a gritty texture or non-cohesive filling, corn syrup is used rather than cream. The addition of eggs create added flavor and a binding agent, ensuring the filling will set up properly in the oven. For proper richness, a non-healthy dose of butter is melted in. Last but certainly not least, a bit of bourbon rounds out the nutty, praline flavors and is a much desired addition after dealing with a long month of holiday stress. I poured in about two tablespoons full but if you really want to taste the bourbon, as much as four tablespoons may be added without altering the filling’s texture.

*Note: The pecans called for in this formula must be chopped but be sure you do not include any of the dust or else it will cloud the filling. The pie should be removed from the oven when the center is set but still a bit jiggly. The residual heat will continue to cook the filling, allowing it to set up firm but not be dried out.

PECAN PRALINE PIE

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9 in.) Pie Crust, baked
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3/4 cup Corn Syrup
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tbsp. Bourbon
  • 2 cups Whole Pecans, toasted, roughly chopped

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 275°.  If pie shell is not warm, place in oven to slightly re-heat while preparing filling.
  2. Cook butter, brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter is melted. Remove pan from heat and whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
  3. Add corn syrup, vanilla and bourbon. Return pan to heat, and stir until mixture is glossy and warm. Do not overheat. Remove pan immediately from heat if the mixture begins to bubble or steam. Temperature should register 130°. Remove pan from heat and gently stir in pecans.
  4. Pour mixture into the warm pie shell. Bake until the center feels like gelatin when pressed, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool pie completely. Pie is best served at room temperature but can be warmed briefly. Top with bourbon whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

 Special Thanks to:  My boyfriend Peter and Bridget Lancaster

 All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011