The pie filling is basically an egg custard. If my teaked version is to resemble the original, it needs to be an egg custard as well. Where can I find healthier sweetness? I don't want to turn to sugar substitutes since they act differently in baked goods. Instead of corn syrup and refined sugar, I think I will turn to fruits for their sweetening ability. I won't be able to remove all the calories, but I might succeed in adding fiber and the result may be a pie with a gentler, less overpowering sweetness. All the other flavorings will remain the same and the star of the show will be wonderful Green Valley (AZ) Pecans!
I will use the Vodka Pie Crust recipe we explored earlier in the year of pie. It will produce a nice, thin crust for these mini pies.
The original Pecan Pie recipe straight off the bottle of corn syrup is as follows:
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsps. butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 unbaked 9" deep dish pie shell
Beat the eggs lightly. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into pie crust and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 60 - 70 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.
My alternative Pecan Pie follows the original but replaces the corn syrup and sugar with 1 cup each: pureed Deglet Noor dates (pitted) and unseasoned/unsweetened apple butter. I pureed the dates in the food processor and added the apple butter, eggs, butter, vanilla and 2 Tbsps. milk.
I followed the same assembly procedure and baked the mini pies side-by-side.
My Dad, a lifelong pie lover, is my official taster. He felt, as I do, that the original pie is yummy but overpoweringly sweet. The best thing about the original is that the pecans rise to the top and are both toasted and caramelized by the sugar filling. The alternative pie is less sweet but still sweet enough to qualify as a desert. The flavors are more complex as you would expect by the addition of fruit. The pecans do not rise to the top and, therefore, do not have a chance to toast and lack the caramel flavor of the original. We both consider the alternative pie a successful beginning. When I make it again I will decrease the amount of date puree and increase the apple butter to make the filling a little lighter. I will also toast the pecans separately and not mix them into the filling. I will put the custard in the shell and top the pie with the lightly toasted pecans. If a little sugar is allowed, I will try toasting and caramelizing the pecans with a sprinkling of sugar.
I don't think I will continue to make the original Pecan Pie. I have become more sensitive to sugar over the years and I prefer a less sweet dessert. I will continue to work with this sugar-free recipe and refine the flavors until I have a pie I can really enjoy. I hope you will try it and find that it works for you. Let me know. You can comment directly on the blog post and you can send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org Happy Baking!