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Mini keto pecan pies with brandy butter are holiday dessert heaven

keto pecan pie bites final

This keto pecan pie recipe is virtually indistinguishable from the original — a buttery, flaky crust filled with a gooey, fudgy pecan filling. These three-bite morsels are the perfect keto party dessert this holiday season: sweet and satisfying, without the guilt.

We elevate tradition by serving these keto pecan pie bites with whipped brandy butter; a British holiday classic.

A sugar-laden Southern tradition

Pecans are native to the southern U.S. and are harvested during the fall. Interestingly, sweet and syrupy tarts date back to medieval times, and when European settlers arrived in the U.S., they adapted these recipes to use available ingredients. In the South, that meant pecans in autumn. Pecan pies have been synonymous with the season and Thanksgiving ever since, and for good reason. 

MORE: Low-carb baked Brie en croute is a gorgeous holiday appetizer

A classic pecan pie is essentially a lot of corn syrup mixed with eggs and pecans, that, when baked, turns into a sugar custard. Although they’re delicious, they’re so nauseatingly packed with sugar that just sniffing one of them seems capable of raising your blood sugar.

If you’re avoiding sugar crashes but miss that incredible, roasted pecan smell and sweet, gooey satisfaction, this keto pecan pie recipe’s for you. Go ahead and serve this carb-conscious replacement to your non-dieting guests. They won’t know the difference. 

MORE: Holiday foods to avoid — and what to eat instead

The secrets of a great keto pecan pie

The trick to getting the signature fudgy, sticky texture in a sugarless pecan pie is not adding too many pecans. Many pecan pie recipes call for more than 2 or 3 cups of pecans. This can cause a low-sugar pie to become dry, because sugar substitutes often don’t provide the same level of stickiness and gooeyness that sugar does.

Adding too many nuts (which soak up the moisture) can compromise the texture. Just ½ cup of pecans is just right to offer exceptional pecan flavor and texture in these mini pies, and a touch of gelatin powder adds extra fudginess to the filling.

keto pecan pie cutting the dough

The pastry for these mini tarts is a tried-and-true recipe. The trick to getting extra-flaky, buttery pastry is copious amounts of butter, which makes this dough rather soft after being mixed. Roll it out between two sheets of parchment and let it firm up in the freezer for 10 minutes. The result is a dough that is easy to cut and shape, but you have to work quickly before it softens too much. The dough should be rolled out to 1/8-inch thickness.

keto pecan pie dough in cupcake tray

For the mini pies, you’ll use a cupcake pan — nonstick, so the pies come out easily. Cut the rolled-out and firmed-up dough into discs using a pastry cutter approximately the same size as the top of each cup in the pan. This will give you perfectly sized mini pies, 1/2 inch high. Place the dough circles into the cupcake pan cavities and gently press down, making sure there are no cracks. Once you’ve molded all your pastry crusts, bake for five minutes to seal before filling. 

PECAN PIE SYRUP FILLING INGREDIENTS BEFORE COOKING

Instead of the traditional, blood sugar-spiking mixture of brown sugar and corn syrup in the filling, this recipe uses a clever combination of low-glycemic sweetener mixed with gelatin, butter, spices and flavoring. When boiled together with a little water, it creates a flavorful low-carb syrup.

PECAN PIE FILLING AFTER MIXING WITH EGGS - READY TO FILL PASTRY CUPS

The boiled syrup is then mixed with one whole egg and one egg yolk, which increases the fudgy texture. Instead of mixing the pecans into the filling, they are sprinkled over the top after the filling is added to the pastry crusts.

Sweetener matters

Being the co-founder of The Sola Company and the initial developer of Sola sweetener, I highly recommend this sugar substitute for sweetening all of your low-carb recipes. I created Sola because of a personal mission as a chef: To make a sweetener that actually worked like sugar in recipes. We created a sweetener that caramelizes and gets sticky, helps cakes rise and brown, and keeps ice cream soft.

Sola sweetener uses ingredients found in nature, measures 1:1 like sugar, and has been clinically tested to show no impact on blood sugar or insulin levels. Sola sweetener is composed of naturally occurring ingredients found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy, and it tastes just like cane sugar but with 75% fewer calories and 0 net carbs. Whether you are using standard cups or grams, simply replace the sugar in any recipe with the same amount of Sola sweetener.

MORE: Get ready to swoon over this keto pumpkin spice churros recipe

What is Sola sweetener made from?

Sola’s ingredients include keto sweetener staples such as:

  • Tagatose – A low-glycemic sugar found in yogurt.
  • Erythritol – A sugar alcohol found in pears and grapes.
  • Maltitol – A low-calorie sweetener found in chicory leaves.
  • Stevia leaf extract – A sweet extract from the stevia leaf.
  • Monk fruit extract – A sweet extract from a small, melon-shaped fruit.
  • Xanthan gum – A natural ingredient that helps create texture.

Other low-carb/keto sweeteners

If you can’t find Sola sweetener, here are some other recommendations:

  • Swerve: A pleasant-tasting blend of erythritol and oligosaccharides, which are considered dietary fiber and are derived from fruits and vegetables. Swerve contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or flavors, and is safe for those living with diabetes. Human clinical trials have shown that Swerve does not affect blood glucose or insulin levels:
  • LakantoA blend of erythritol and monkfruit extracts. Due to its high percentage of erythritol, you might notice a slight cooling taste and crystallization in liquids.
  • Pure erythritol: If you can’t find any of the above sweeteners, your next best bet is pure erythritol. You might notice a slight cooling taste and crystallization in liquids. Wholesome Sweeteners Zero brand erythritol is widely available in retail outlets.
  • Pure xylitol: Xylitol has a glycemic index of 7, which is the highest on my list of recommendations; however, it’s widely used by low-carbers. I’ve included it as an option if you can’t find any of the above sweeteners because it’s easy to find. (For example, Xyla Brand xylitol is widely distributed.) Xylitol is made primarily from birch trees.  A warning for dog owners: Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs.

Keto pecan pies with brandy butter

Prep

Cook

Total

Yield 12 servings

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1½ cups finely ground almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Filling:

Syrup

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • ½ cup Sola sweetener or granulated sweetener of your choice
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Other filling ingredients

  • 1 whole free-range egg
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Brandy butter (makes extra):

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, seeds scraped out
  • ½ cup powdered sweetener of your choice
  • ¼ cup good-quality brandy (bourbon or dark rum also work well)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease cavities of non-stick cupcake pan with unsalted butter.
  2. Make crust: Place almond flour, arrowroot and salt in bowl of food processor and process until combined. Add cold, cubed butter, and pulse until mixture resembles pea-size crumbs. Add egg white-water mixture and continue to pulse until batter is smooth.
  3. Spoon thick batter onto sheet of parchment paper and place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Use rolling pin or palm of hand  to roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness.
  4. Transfer pastry dough to freezer to chill for about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove parchment paper, and cut dough into discs using pastry cutter approximately same size as top of each cavity in cupcake pan. Place dough circle into cupcake pan cavity and gently press down, making sure that there are no cracks. Use extra pastry to fill in any cracks.Bake for 5 minutes to seal before filling. 
  6. Placing water into saucepan and sprinkle gelatin on top. Let rest 5 minutes for gelatin to soften and bloom.
  7. Add remaining syrup ingredients. Place pan over medium heat, and bring mixture to steady simmer. Stir constantly until ingredients are combined. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until syrupy and glossy.  
  8. Remove pan from heat and pour contents into large mixing bowl. Cool syrup for 20 minutes, then add whole egg and egg yolk, whisk thoroughly, and pour into mini pie crusts. Sprinkle chopped pecans over top.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until filling is set and crusts are light golden-brown.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes.
  11. Use knife to pop cooled mini pies out of pan.
  12. Make brandy butter: Beat softened butter and vanilla bean seeds until creamy. Gradually beat in powdered sweetener and brandy, beating well and scraping sides of bowl between each addition, until smooth. Cover and chill until required.
  13. To serve, pipe brandy butter on top of each pie, or place brandy butter in dish in center of platter with spoon and let people add their own.

Notes

  • The molasses does add a small amount of sugar but also creates exceptional flavor.
  • If you're having trouble getting the pies out of the pan, place the pan in the freezer until pies are frozen, then heat the underside of the pan on the stove. Give the pan a good whack, and they should slide out. Then just defrost the pies.

Looking for another low-carb dessert his holiday season? Get our keto blueberry cheesecake recipe below.

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