This is the dessert I am making for Christmas this year. It’ll just be the two of us and my husband’s brother visiting from up around Dallas.
When I was in high school in Kansas, my best friend (also named Peggy) often had me over for dinner (we were neighbors). Her mother was a former stage actress from Budapest who married an American Army officer after WWII. To say Peggy’s mother was a good cook would be a gross understatement. Dinner at my friend’s house was quite the culinary experience, and as my parents were also well-versed in gourmet cooking, I felt my ability to judge really good food was well-honed by this age.
This wonderful apple dessert, much like hand pies, was Peggy’s mom’s signature dessert. My family fell in love at first bite! It has since become a family favorite holiday dessert offering. I have now reworked it for a low-carb lifestyle, using an entirely different crust. I have also low carbed the filling. The original recipe is made with all apples, a few raisins and the original crust had 1c. sour cream! To be more authentic, you could go ahead and use sour cream for the cream called for in my pie crust below without much of a hike in carbs. 🙂 I have omitted the raisins entirely as they add so many carbs. I use mostly chayote squash, with only one apple for flavor impact. These bars definitely improve in flavor on day 2 as the rum mellows considerably overnight so I like to make them the day before I plan to serve.
Just for the heck of it, I worked up the nutritional numbers for this made with 5 small apples and no chayote squash and provide that info below for anyone interested in making this with all apples. Doing so ups the carbs approximately 2 carbs per bar, which isn’t that bad a price for all apples, really. Holidays are supposed to be “special occasions”, non? 🙂 Today I plan to make this with all apples, as it’s Christmas once again.
I hear zucchini makes a wonderful apple sub, but the unpredictability of its moisture content in a pastry worries me greatly, so I haven’t tried that in this recipe. As it is consumed hand-held a soggy crust can’t be tolerated for hand eating. I absolutely do not think this recipe would be good with ALL chayote squash, so I will never go down that road for this favorite.
This dish is not suitable until late in Atkins Phase 2 OWL due to the rum and apples. I store my bars in an airtight container in the bottom of my fridge. To be honest, they don’t usually last long enough to worry about freezing! I’ve never frozen any of my low-carb pastries, so I don’t know how they’d freeze.
2 recipes Peggy’s “Flour” Pie Crust (for gluten free, use your favorite gluten-free pie crust recipe)
1/3 c. granular Splenda (or equivalent sweetener of your choice)
2 chayote squash (or zucchini) , peeled and sliced ¼-3/8″ thick
1 small delicious apple (2½” diameter), peeled and sliced ¼” thick
3/4 c. pecans, chopped
2 T. rum
1 T. fresh lemon juice
lemon zest of 1 lemon
3/4 c. granular erythritol (or equivalent sweetener of your choice)
2½ tsp. cinnamon
3 egg whites, beaten to frothy/soft peaks
DIRECTIONS: You need a 8½” x 11½” baking pan for this recipe. Preheat oven to 350º. Make the double recipe of pie crust dough per that recipe’s instructions, adding the 1/3 c. Splenda to the mixture. When pastry is kneaded into a solid ball of dough, form a log and break apart into 60% and 40% (bottom crust takes a little more dough than the top crust).
BOTTOM CRUST: Take the larger piece of dough, shape in a rough log and place between two pieces plastic. Roll out dough into a rectangle the size of the pan’s bottom plus the depth of the sides. Dough will be fairly thin but still manageable. The dough must be large enough go up the sides of the pan completely to the top and over the edge in order not to fall when baked. Peel top plastic off carefully and fold in half/lift pastry into the pan. Adjust pastry to fit. Carefully remove second piece of plastic and fit pastry well into the walls and corners of the pan without tearing. Allow pastry to lay over the top edge of the pan to “hold on” and not fall inward during baking. Prick pastry with a fork at 2″ intervals to avoid it bubbling up during baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 350º oven just begins to lightly brown. Remove and cool while you make the filling.
FILLING: Peel and slice chayote squash and microwave covered on HI for 8-10 minutes until soft. Peel apple and place in bowl with chayote. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl with electric hand mixer until thick (thick and frothy/soft peaks). Add nuts, rum, lemon juice and zest, erythritol and cinnamon to the apple/squash mixture and then fold in the beaten egg whites until the fruit and nuts are well-moistened. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the filling into the half-baked crust. Spread as evenly as possible, pushing up into corners of pastry. Level the apples and squash pieces so no pointy bits are sticking up as they may tear the top pastry. I’ve had that happen before.
TOP CRUST: Roll the remaining ball of dough between the two plastic sheets, rolling it into a rectangle just a tiny bit larger than the top of the pan. Peel off top plastic and fold up/lift gently onto the filling, being sure the edges are fitting over the bottom crust. Crimp the top crust onto the bottom crust with your fingers to seal it well. Pop into hot 350º oven for about 22-25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and done in the center. Dough will be a tiny bit soft but dry to the touch. It will look like the final product below/right when done. Cool completely before slicing and refrigerating.
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NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 24 bars, each contains:
74.14 cals, 6.43g fat, 7.1g carbs, 5.33g fiber, 1.77g NET CARBS, 2.68 g protein, 61.33 mg sodium
FOR THE CURIOUS: With all apple filling, using 5 small 2½” apples: 93 calories, 7.5g fat, 10.06 g carbs, 6.36 g fiber, 3.7 net carbs