Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sugared Butter Pecans

My day started with an email that struck me as just foolish. I usually appreciate health tips and announcement of special hours and so on from my health club. But this one was about food and the holidays. It suggested there should be no Christmas treats in my house, and that if I was foolish enough to make some, I should drink many glasses of water and chew sugarless gum. Maybe I should put my fingers in my ears, squeeze my eyes shut and say "naw, naw, naw." I know they mean well, but I picture Puritans in black hats with pious looks sentencing me to a month of bread and water.  Making and sharing and eating holiday treats connects me to my friends and family, is a part of tradition, and it makes these short dark cold days happier - even if my jeans become a snugger.

That said, here is my beloved recipe for Sugared Butter Pecans. It's from the Zonta Club, when I bought a bag of their fund-raiser pecans, years ago. Every year I tear the place apart looking for this recipe. I package up the finished pecans in little tins and use them for gifts. The recipe has lots of sugar and fat, but it also has nuts, which are probably better for you than, say, fudge. According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, pecans are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Good, and good for you (not counting the sugar and butter).

Sugared Butter Pecans

1 lb. pecans (about 4 cups)
1 cup sugar (sometimes I add a dash of cinnamon)
2 egg whites
1/4 lb. butter (one stick)

Toast pecans in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Stir so they don't burn. Cool the nuts. Beat the egg whites until nearly stiff. Add the sugar to the egg whites, then put the pecans into the egg/sugar mixture. Melt butter in the bottom of a shallow pan (I use a cookie sheet). Pour the coated nuts into the pan. Bake at 350 until the butter is absorbed, 15 or 20 minutes. Stir. Store in a glass jar or airtight tin, if they make it that far. Note - This year I was short of pecans so I made up the difference with almonds. They're good too.

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