Small treats take cen­ter stage as hol­i­day dessert op­tion

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FOOD - By El­iz­a­beth Karmel

When I have a lot of peo­ple com­ing over, I love to make mini pies, or “pie cups.” I coined the name “pie cup” when I cre­ated a “pie pro­gram” for one of my restau­rants and vowed to make pie the new cup­cake in NYC.

Since then, the mini, hand-held pie has ex­ploded in pop­u­lar­ity. The beauty of the mini pies is that they are por­ta­ble, easy to make and the per­fect pro­por­tion size.

Most peo­ple I know don’t make their own pie be­cause they are afraid to make the pie dough from scratch. There is so much pres­sure on the cook for Thanks­giv­ing that the hol­i­day is not the time to learn how to make pie dough. This recipe of­fers the op­tion of us­ing pre-made gra­ham-cracker crusts. If you al­ready make your own pie dough, you can make this pie in mini pie shells or a muf­fin pan.

Once you the pie crust is taken care of, you will un­der­stand the mean­ing of “easy as pie”: As­sem­bling the fill­ing re­quires just a bowl and a fork.

I add dark cho­co­late to a tra­di­tional pecan pie for all those cho­co­late lovers out there. I also add a touch of Kahlua to deepen the fla­vor of the cho­co­late, but you could stick with the tra­di­tional bour­bon if you pre­fer. If you don’t like pecans, this pie is also de­li­cious made with wal­nuts.

MINI CHO­CO­LATE PECAN PIE CUPS

Start to fin­ish: 30 min­utes

Serv­ings: 12

12 in­di­vid­ual Kee­bler gra­ham cracker pie shells or home­made 3-inch pie shells

1 cup pecan halves plus more for dec­o­rat­ing the tops (sub­sti­tute wal­nuts if you pre­fer)

4 ta­ble­spoons but­ter, melted

2⁄3 cup gran­u­lated white sugar

1⁄2 cup dark corn syrup

2 large eggs, beaten

1⁄8 tea­spoon sea salt

4 ounces

70 per­cent bit­ter­sweet cho­co­late, melted

1 heap­ing tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract

2 ta­ble­spoons of Kahlua Whipped Cream or vanilla ice cream, for serv­ing (op­tional)

Pre­heat the oven to 350 F. Put two ta­ble­spoon of nuts into each un­baked pie shell. Set aside.

Com­bine but­ter, gran­u­lated sugar, corn syrup, eggs, salt, cho­co­late, vanilla and Kahlua and stir un­til well mixed.

Place the mini pie crusts on a half sheet pan. Pour the pie mix­ture on top of nuts just un­til the first line of the crust (if you made your own crust, this is about ¼ inch from the top). Do not over­fill as they will puff up as they bake. Dec­o­rate the tops of the pies with a few nuts.

Place the sheet pan in the cen­ter rack of the oven. Bake about 20 min­utes or un­til cooked through, a lit­tle puffy and crusty on top. Let cool on a rack for at least 3 hours. Re­frig­er­ate left­over pie.

Serve warm with whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream if you choose. The pies are also good cold the next day.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 272 calo­ries; 142 calo­ries from fat; 16 g fat (6 g sat­u­rated; 1 g trans fats); 46 mg choles­terol; 84 mg sodium; 33 g car­bo­hy­drate; 2 g fiber; 27 g sugar; 3 g pro­tein.

El­iz­a­beth Karmel is a bar­be­cue and South­ern foods ex­pert. She is the chef and pit master at on­line re­tailer Caroli­naCueToGo.com and the au­thor of three books, in­clud­ing “Tam­ing the Flame.”

RICHARD DREW — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mini Cho­co­late Pecan Pies.

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