This post was intended to be written at least two weeks ago, but as has become par for the course with this blog, it got put on the back burner for way too long, and I won’t stand for it anymore! I’ve been trying to settle into my new apartment and falling back into city life, as well as maintaining my long work hours, so blogging gets little time! I still think I’ll get back to it for real someday, but in the meantime I have a couple of fabulous recipes to share that will hopefully convince you to keep coming back and reading in the future!As you’ve probably noticed, I bake a lot, though I rarely come across a recipe I really don’t like. Even more seldom are the recipes that are completely exceptional. I’m generally pretty happy with the things I produce, but every once in a while I’ll make something that is just so unbelievably fantastic I’m practically jumping for joy after the first bite.
You can ask anyone I know, I get pretty excited about food. But these Pecan Pie Bars took my enthusiasm to a new level. I can’t tell you how many people (let’s just say everyone who tried them) told me hands down these are one of the best, if not the best dessert I’ve ever made.
So, pecan pie bars — what’s the hype, right? Just like pecan pie in the shape of a bar. Well, that couldn’t be more wrong. These bars are like crack (or what I imagine crack might be like) — they are totally on another level, one bite and you’d be certain you could consume the entire 9 x 13 inch pan right then and there. Probably best if you don’t though.
They are the perfect combination flavors and textures — sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy, and so amazingly delicious. I drenched most of them in dark chocolate, but later found that I liked the “naked” bars as much as, if not more than the ones covered in chocolate! I thought maybe they were too good to be true, so I made another batch the next weekend, and dare I say… they might even have been better. So the moral of this story is, if you don’t try these bars, you are a serious fool. But I mean that in the nicest of ways
Pecan Pie Bars
For the Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Pie Filling:
2 heaping cups of whole pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Dipping (optional):
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
1.) Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with parchment paper (or foil) leaving some excess hanging over the ends. (This is important, otherwise the bars won’t come out of the pan!)
2.) For the crust, cut the butter into a 1/2-inch dice. Then, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process all the ingredients for the crust together (including the diced butter) until the mixture begins to form tiny lumps, about 30-45 seconds. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan and using your hands or a big spatula, evenly press the shortbread crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, about 18-20 minutes. While the shortbread crust is baking, prepare the filling.
3.) For the filling, roughly chop the pecans — it’s ok to leave some pecans whole. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, honey, cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Pour the pecan filling into the hot shortbread crust and spread as evenly as possible. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling evenly all over, about 12-15 minutes.
4.) Cool completely, lift out of the baking pan using the overhanging parchment or foil and cut into bars. At this point, you can serve the bars as they are, or move on and dip them in chocolate — it’s a win-win either way.
5.) To dip in chocolate, prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. To melt the chocolate, put 6 ounces of the chocolate and the oil together in a glass container that is taller than it is deep (I used a mug and it worked really well) and heat in the microwave in 30-second increments stirring after each round. It took us about 1 minute and 15 seconds. When the chocolate is just melted, add the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and stir until completely smooth and glossy. Dip the bars into the chocolate allowing the excess to drip off. Place on the prepared baking sheet to cool and firm up.
These bars will keep, covered, for 5 days at room temperature. But don’t worry, they’ll probably be gone in 2, if you can keep yourself from eating them that long.
I made a pretty killer batch of Cheesecake Candy Bar Brownies last week, and there are still a few kicking around the kitchen, however I haven’t had a chance to photograph those, so the recipe may vanish into the abyss without so much as the courtesy of being put in print! If I find myself home within the hours of daylight we have, I’ll work on capturing their beauty, otherwise I’ll find something equally as exciting to share with you!
Happiest of holiday wishes! I’ll be back soon, with some wonderful holiday love. Until then, with love, and sugar – enjoy!