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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Pecan Bars

I've been a long-time fan of pecan pie but I may come to prefer the buttery, nutty flavor of these bars, especially once I detach myself from the sentiment resulting from years of gooey, oversweet pies at holiday meals.


Pecan Bars

Makes a 9X13 pan, about 24 bars

High altitude (4300-5300 ft) advice:  Check to see if bars are done at least 5 minutes before the recommended time. Mine were rather like hard butterscotch on the edges and they were baked for the lower amount of  time. 

For the crust:

8 T unsalted butter, melted
6 T granulated sugar
1/2 teas salt
1 3/4 c AP flour

For the topping:

3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
7 T unsalted butter, melted and hot
1 teas vanilla extract
1/2 teas salt
4 c (1 pd) pecan halves, toasted
1/2 teas flake sea salt (optional)

First toast the pecans. Recipe authors recommend you don't use pecan pieces.  If you can't find halves or can't go shopping use what you have (you could even use walnuts.) I had on hand New Mexico-grown pecans which come in rough quarter pieces and I used about half a cup less since I was afraid the butter mix wouldn't cover everything.

Make the crust:

Place the oven rack on the lowest position and preheat to 350F. Prepare a 9X13 pan by making a foil sling, generously lining your pan with foil and leaving extra over the narrow sides for removing the cooled bars. Push the foil into the corners as fully as you can without tearing it. Spray lightly with cooking oil spray. 

To save on clean up, melt the butter in a medium glass bowl in a microwave. Mix in the salt and granulated sugar; stir, and then mix in the flour and stir until a dough forms. (If you prefer to melt your butter outside of the microwave, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl of any kind and pour the butter over.) You will likely need to use your hands to get the flour to mix in completely. It is ready when you squeeze a little of the dough in your hand and it remains in place and no streaks of flour remain. Take rough walnut size pieces of the dough and place over the bottom of the prepared pan. Press them together using your fingertips and palms. Smooth the dough as well and as evenly as you can. It's best not to have holes. 

Make the topping:

Wipe out the bowl you've already used with a paper towel and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Whisk together for about 20 seconds; at first it will look like is won't come together but keep stirring. Fold in the pecans until nuts are all coated evenly.

Use a spatula to pour the nut mixture over the crust; it will be easier if you pour some near the corners. Spread it evenly over the crust and lightly push some nuts into each corner and to all edges. The recipe authors said there might be inconsequential bare patches but I had no problem with this. Place in the oven  and bake until the topping is even over the top and is rapidly bubbling over the entire surface, 23-25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 90 minutes. This may be hard to do but let them sit at least an hour so you can get them out of the pan. More importantly, let them cool so you don't end up with what my dentist calls "pizza palate."