Published Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pecans add natural flavor to dishes

From SPECIAL REPORTS

closeup@newnan.com

It’s hard to celebrate the season without dishes featuring those famous Georgia pecans.

The Georgia Pecan Commission features recipes from main dishes to sweets online at www.georgiapecans.org .

Pecans have such a distinctive and popular flavor “au natural.” That flavor is enhanced in the baking process or by toasting before adding the nuts to a recipe.

Former president, food connoisseur and gardener Thomas Jefferson was very taken by the flavor of pecans and had trees imported from Louisiana for his Monticello orchards.

The pecan is native to the Mississippi Valley region of the U.S. and probably was introduced to Georgia by Indians.

By 1871, several large pecan groves had been planted in most of the southeastern states, including Georgia. Commercial pecan production in Georgia began during the late 1800s.

This dessert features all the flavors of the season including apples, pecans and cinnamon and nutmeg. Topped by a cream cheese frosting, it’s sure to be a Christmas crowd-pleaser:

Applesauce Georgia Pecan Spice Cake

- The Georgia Pecan Commission

Here is a healthy, moist cake suitable for giving the new neighbors or bringing to a potluck during the holidays.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped Georgia pecans

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1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

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1/2 cup light butter

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1 1/2 cups chunky applesauce

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1/4 cup apple butter

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2 egg whites

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1 whole egg

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3 cups all-purpose flour

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2 teaspoons baking soda

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1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

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1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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1/4 teaspoon salt

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1 cup raisins

Directions:

Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9” x 13” baking pan. For the pecans, toast them on a baking sheet in oven for four minutes or until crunchy and deep brown. Set aside.

Beat sugar and butter with electric mixer until well blended, from 4 - 5 minutes. Add applesauce, apple butter, egg whites and egg and beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Beat well. Stir in raisins.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

Packaging tip: Cut this cake into squares and place on a pretty plate or tray. Cover with a loose layer of plastic wrap or tuck inside a box lined with parchment paper. If you’re giving the entire cake, bake in a new cake pan and present cake, pan and an index card on which you print the recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons light butter

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8-oz. reduced fat cream cheese

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2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

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1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the icing, beat butter and cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and beat at lower speed until incorporated. Add vanilla and combine well. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over cake and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

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