Saturday, December 21, 2013

Delicious Pecan Bars ( Low Sodium To Boot)

I am still doing a good bit of cooking for my parents.  Mother's low sodium diet is really not that difficult, but Mom tends to think all she can eat is unflavored baked chicken/fish and a green salad with nothing but olive oil and vinegar.  She seems quite surprised when I show up at her door with food that not only smells good but is pretty tasty also.

She has been missing baked goods. I thought it would not be a big deal to leave the salt out of foods but did a bit of research mainly to see if it would alter the kitchen chemistry much.  I am glad I did and was surprised at what all I learned.  I know I did not realize how many mg. of sodium are in both baking powder and baking soda.  I also found there are either sodium free or extremely low sodium alternatives for both available though our good friends at Amazon. ( Is there anything you can't buy from them?)

I have been scouring low sodium web sites and blogs and have found many things to try, but so far have baked only one thing.  Mom said she would like something sweet and nutty.  It was not much of a request but I had no idea what direction I would go.  I wanted something fairly easy to make that would be delicious and not taste like a low sodium dish.  By combining a couple of recipes and a little trial and error I came up with these pecan pie bars.  Ok there is nothing remotely pieish about them, but it was a dang fine substitute, plus not just the restricted diet person ate them.  Everyone ate them, then went back for more!

                                                             Pecan Pie Bars

Cookie crust
1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Mix the flour and brown sugar together.  Cut in the butter until it resembles cornmeal. Mix to incorporate everything.  ( I used clean hands, but use whatever tool you choose.  Hands just work better with dough.)  If necessary add a few drops of water. Dough will be mostly smooth.  Pat it out into the bottom of a greased 13x9 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until it is light golden brown.  Remove and spread the topping over the cookie crust.

Pecan Topping
1/4 cup dark corn syrup ( Corn syrup has a fairly high sodium content for sweeteners)
1/2 cup brown sugar ( I used light because I had it.  Dark might taste better)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 cup broken pecan pieces ( can coarse chop if desired)

In a small bowl mix the first 4 ingredients until they are smooth. Add the pecans and stir to mix.  Spread on top of the cookie crust and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool to lukewarm then cut into 36 squares. ( If you let it cool completely before cutting it will break rather than cut)

The entire recipe has about 300 mg of sodium, so each piece has negligible amounts.  2 pieces satisfied my mother's cravings for something delicious, sweet and nutty.  I call it a win-win situation.