This pretty dessert provides the homey combination of crust, filling and pecans, but with only 380 calories. Cormier’s presentation does not include topping, but if you simply can’t live without it, choose a 1-inch scoop of vanilla bean ice milk, which adds about 20 calories. The total comes to about 400 calories, less than half the count of the high-octane version.

Ah, pecan pie. Tender buttery crust, velvety filling and crunchy, sweet pecans. This dessert might have a layer of chocolate and luscious ice cream or whipped cream on top. It’s 180 degrees from healthy. A piece of pie loaded this way can carry about 900 calories.

Such a treat can certainly help pack on the 5 pounds that the average person gains during the holiday season, says Nicole Cormier, registered dietitian. She owns Delicious Living Nutrition, which has offices in East Bridgewater, Lakeville and Middleboro, Mass., and Providence, R.I.

But pecan pie is always served at your family holidays, you say. Besides, this pie is too delicious to give up. So how can we dial down its calories while maintaining the flavor we’ve loved all our lives?

At least one Internet site threw up its hands, figuratively speaking, and said there’s no way. But Cormier says this is not an impossible dream. Instead of a big mouth-watering wedge of pecan pie a la mode, you can offer guests their own mini pies.
This is portion control, but stylish, not stingy.

This pretty dessert provides the homey combination of crust, filling and pecans, but with only 380 calories. Cormier’s presentation does not include topping, but if you simply can’t live without it, choose a 1-inch scoop of vanilla bean ice milk, which adds about 20 calories. The total comes to about 400 calories, less than half the count of the high-octane version.

Cormier’s recipe for mini pies is big on traditional flavor but offers an ?attractive way to control portions of this rich dessert.

Pecan Pie

• 3 eggs
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/3 cup real maple syrup
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 dash salt
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1 cup pecans, broken or chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
• 8 mini pie crusts

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place mini pie crusts on a baking sheet and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs. Beat in honey, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt. Stir in butter and pecans.   

Divide mixture among 8 pie crusts and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. Cool pies to room temperature before serving. Makes 8 mini pies.

Look, no crust

To whittle the calorie load even more, turn the pie into a kind of nutty pudding. Use Cormier’s filling recipe, but leave off the crust and bake the egg mixture and pecans in eight small ramekins (inner diameter of about 3 inches). Set the containers on a baking pan and divide the nuts among them. Then spoon in the filling and bake the puddings at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Without the pie crust, these treats total about 250 calories each, low enough to allow a tiny scoop of ice milk.

By the bite

Cormier’s recipe for Pecan Pie Balls carry an even smaller calorie hit: about 75 apiece. In a food processor, place half a cup of almonds and a cup of lightly toasted pecans. Pulse a few times to chop the nuts coarsely. Add 1 1/2 cups of roughly chopped dates and a quarter-teaspoon of vanilla extract to the nuts and process until the mixture sticks together. If it remains crumbly, add a teaspoonful of water at a time until you can form 1-inch balls. This recipe will make about 26 pieces. Top each with a toasted pecan half.

Dates don’t entirely replace the usual gooey filling of pecan pie, but guests who notice the difference will still enjoy a single piece wrapped as a parting gift.