My Aunt Evelyn had a giant pecan tree in her backyard in Manning, South Carolina and she'd give away the tree's bounty by the brown paper sack-full. We would come home with a bag if we were lucky enough to be down there before they were all gone. I haven't been back to Manning in years - and though my Aunt was called home years ago, I'd like to go visit the family plot and see if the tree is still there.
Pecans are one of my favorite tree nuts. They have a subtle, natural sweetness that doesn't need much. Pecans often get drowned in tons of sugar and butter in pies and praline candies which, though delicious, are major blood sugar saboteurs.
Here's a little pecan treat that will satisfy the sweet tooth but has a lot less sugar that traditional pie. I use rum and orange to compliment the pecan's mellow flavor and a whole wheat cookie-like crust.
* You will need a mini-muffin pan for this recipe.*
1 cup wheat flour (I used Anson Mills' Whole Grain Wheat Flour)
1/2 teaspoon sodium-free baking powder
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Juice of one orange (about 3/4 shot glass full)
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1. In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a large mixer, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
2. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives, or in the bowl of the mixer, until completely combined. Place bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and mix in the sour cream until well combined. Gather the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and return to the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. In a medium bowl, beat the egg slightly, then mix in the rum, orange juice, zest, brown sugar, and vanilla. Gently stir in the pecans, making sure that they are well covered with the syrup.
6. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll pieces of the dough into one inch balls and press into bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup.
7. Fill each of the prepared cups with pecans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pecans are a little browned.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature. These make great gifts sprinkled with little powdered sugar and will keep for about a week.