Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 10: Classic Pecan Bars

I have to admit, this is my absolute favorite Christmas treat. I would rather have these than any other cookie, candy or square. It took four trial runs in order to get this recipe to be exactly what I wanted. Most recipes for pecan bars are too sweet, too soft, or don't have enough pecans. In this recipe there is a crisp and tender short crust that isn't overly sweet, and the topping has a wonderful rich caramel flavour and tons of pecans. I know that this will become one of your holiday staples as well.

Makes 20 squares.

For the Crust:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the Topping:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add salt, flour, and baking powder, and mix until combined and the dough starts to form a ball.
4. Press the dough into the bottom of a 9"x 9" cake pan. 
5. Bake dough for 20 - 25 minutes until edges are golden brown. Set aside and let cool for at least 15 mins.
6. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
7. Toast the pecans on a cookie sheet by baking for 8-10 minutes.
8. In a medium saucepan, mix butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt. 
9. Cook over high heat until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring constantly. Let mixture boil for 1 full minute.
10. Remove pot from heat, stir in vanilla and cream then toasted pecans. (The mixture will boil up when vanilla added.)
11. Pour topping over the crust, making pecans are spread evenly and crust is covered.
12. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. The topping will be bubbling across the entire surface of the bars.
13. Let the bars cool fully before slicing.  Run a pairing knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the topping.
14. Store in an airtight container. These bars freeze very well, but need to be thoroughly defrosted before serving.

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