August 31, 2011

Pecan Pie Bars {& a BIG Announcement}

well, i've got some exciting news...

i am writing a cookbook.

i can't believe i've actually just typed those words. after a decade of contributing to other people's cookbooks and magazines, i'm actually taking on the challenge of authoring my own book.

the book will be filled with fantastically delicious gluten-free recipes that will take only 20-minutes or less. and i get to shoot the photos for the book too! needless to say, i am thrilled beyond belief and amazed that this is happening.

so this means two things to you, dear reader...

first, i would love your help! i will have a book-full of recipes to test and need some volunteers to try them out in your own kitchens. i promise to only give you as many or as few as you'd like. the only things i'll ask is that you report back with your results and let me know how things go. and a photo, if you can. oh, and also that you'll be all hush-hush about what you've tested until the book is published. in return i'll give a big shout-out to you and may even include you on a review page in the book! please contact me if you're interested...

{update: i am truly humbled by all of the volunteers! thank you thank you... there are now enough that i can close the offer to help. but who knows... maybe there will be another book, another day... i look forward to seeing what the future will bring.)

second, i plan to continue to post recipes here, and even hope to give some sneak-peeks of what you'll find in the book, but if i'm a little slow on the updates, you'll know i'm slaving away in my kitchen hoping to make a great book for you!

so in that vein, i must, of course, share a killer recipe with you. i've been planning to post this one since i first started this site. these bars are absolutely one of my favorites.

Pecan Pie Bars

265          grams (about 2 cups) kumquat all-purpose flour
90            grams (about 1/2 cup) sugar
1/8           teaspoon salt
3/4           cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Cooking spray
1              cup packed brown sugar
1              cup light corn syrup
1/2           cup butter
4              large eggs, lightly beaten
1              teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 1/2        cups finely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350`.

2. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with fingers until mixture resembles course meal. Press mixture into a 13- x 9-inch pan coated with cooking spray, using a piece of plastic wrap to press mixture firmly into pan. Bake at 350` for 29-30 minutes or until lightly golden.

3. Combine brown sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and very slowly pour a stream of the hot mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly, until completely incorporated. (do not pour all at once or the eggs will cook.) Stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Pour mixture over golden crust. Bake at 350` for 35 minutes or until set. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into bars.
Yield: 16-18 servings.

adapted from this delicious recipe.

i also must point out that corn syrup is a natural product, very different indeed from the "e-veel" high fructose corn syrup (hfcs).  hfcs is corn syrup that has been highly processed to the point of unnaturally high amounts of fructose. fructose is metabolized in the body very differently from glucose (regular sugar). the liver metabolizes fructose and converts it quickly to fat. fructose is a fruit sugar, so the body knows how to deal with it in smaller doses. but, because hfcs requires the liver to metabolize an unnatural amount of fructose at once (especially because it's usually consumed as a beverage, which goes down fast), it can cause undue stress on the liver and deposit fat and cholesterol very quickly.

natural corn syrup has no hfcs. it does, however, impart a unequaled gooey, stickiness that we southerners expect in our pecan pies. unlike hfcs, which i encourage no one to consume, corn syrup is as a-okay as sugar in my book. which means... moderation, of course.

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