Pecan Pie Bars

pecan pie barsThe good news: pecans are a great source of manganese, a mineral that has many benefits to overall health. Pecans are also a good source of protein and omega-6 fatty acids, and can help lower cholesterol.

The bad news: the health benefits of pecans may be canceled out by the cup and a half of corn syrup, cup and a half of sugar, and four eggs that are also included in this recipe.

The next time I make these I think I’m going to reduce the filling ingredients by about one-fourth, so that the filling doesn’t bubble over the sides of the pan. If I do so, I’ll post an adapted recipe here so everyone can have the ratios.

These bars were for my brother Andy on his birthday, as he is a fan of pecan pie.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into small cubes

For the filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 15 x 10 x 1 pan with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs; I also used my hands to get a more even consistency.

Press into the bottom of the pan in an even layer; bake for 20 minutes.

With a few minutes left on your crust baking time, prepare the filling. In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in pecans.

Carefully pour filling over hot crust and return to the oven, baking for 25-30 minutes or until filling is set. Note: your pan will be very, very full so move it carefully; I placed a larger baking pan on the rack beneath mine to catch the drips, and my filling bubbled over a bit so I’m glad I did.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack completely before cutting.

Pecan Pie…for my Mom

Pecan pieEveryone loves my mother. No, really, they do. Many times in my life, when I’ve introduced myself to someone, they’ve said “oh, are you related to Genny Kozusko?” And when I confirmed that she’s my mom, they inevitably proclaimed, in wide-eyed fascination, “Genny’s your mom?!? I love her! What’s it like to have a mom like her?”

What is it like to have a mom like Genny? She was strict with my brother Andy and me when we were kids, tolerating no back-talk, tantrums, or nonsense. Weekly mass attendance was compulsory, good grades were expected, and junk food was rationed like it was World War II. But every summer, she packed us into the car for a week-long trip to Maryland, where she and my Aunt Liz would take us to Gettysburg, or DC, or Baltimore and teach us about everything they knew; during the school year, Genny came to all of our games, school plays, and concerts when her own busy teaching and coaching schedule permitted. When I lived away from Pittsburgh, I called her every week to check in, and I still call her when I travel to let her know that I’ve arrived safely. She helped Mike and me paint our house, landscape our yard, and renovate our bathroom. She’s our go-to dog-sitter and always happy to take Millie for a walk when she stops by.

What it’s like to have a mom like Genny is to know that I must leave this world a little better off than I found it; to know that family, faith, honesty, hard work, and humor are the most important things that exist. I’m incredibly lucky to have her as my mom. And because it’s Mother’s Day, I’ve baked this pecan pie for her.

Ingredients

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  • 3 slightly beaten eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9-inch pie plate with crust; trim edges and shape as desired.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Add melted butter, taking care not to cook your eggs, stirring to combine. Stir in pecans, then pour filling into crust.

Cover the edge of the pie with a guard or foil to prevent over-browning; bake for 25 minutes, then remove guard and bake another 20-25 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before refrigerating.

Meet Genny

Genny O’Donnell Kozusko is the second-youngest of six children. Born in Howard County, Maryland on June 9, 1946, she is fifty minutes older than her twin sister, my Aunt Liz. She’s the director of athletics at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh, though she is retiring this year to spend more time volunteering at her church, hanging out with our nephew Roman, and hopefully walking Millie.

Below, Genny leans over to touch the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston.

Genny and the Monster