I was overly ambitious (unfortunately, an all to common flaw of mine) in early December. I asked Jess to send me a list of baked goods that she wanted to try or wanted to learn to bake, but either hadn’t gotten around to making or was too nervous to attempt. I thought it would be fun to tackle some tricky desserts.
Oh, the overly ambitious part – I was going to make/bake, photograph and schedule blogs before the holiday rush.
Well, here we are.
Anyway, one of Jess’s items was pecan pie. Although pie is not my go-to dessert, I too love (love) pecan pie. It’s sweet, it’s gooey, it’s nutty… it’s deliciously decadent.
So when I finally had some time to do some baking, I went back to the list and remembered a recipe I marked from Blue-Eyed Bakers. I figured rather than making a whole pie – which I would inevitably end since mom doesn’t do pecan pie (she opts for cherry… yuuuuck!) – I would make some pecan pie bars. Kill the craving and easily give some away! Ahh, perfect combo.
Start with the shortbread. In the food processor, combine the cold butter, flour, brown sugar and salt.
Pulse until small lumps, about the size of peas, form and the mixture looks sandy. Like this.
Dump the mixture into the prepared dish, which is simply a 13 x 9 x 2 pan lined with either parchment paper or foil. Be sure to let extra hang over the sides. This will help you pull the finished product out of the pan. Genius.
Evenly press the shortbread into the dish and bake until golden brown.
As a side note, thanks to this recipe, I realized shortbread is really not my thing. In general, I’m usually disappointed in it. Not sure why, but it just doesn’t excite me. That said, stick with me here folks. I promise this blah shortbread will be elevated. Remember caramel and pecans are coming.
Starting… now! While the shortbread is baking, coarsely chop said pecans. Don’t stress too much. Some can be whole. It will be just fine.
In a heavy saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, honey, heavy cream and salt.
Bring to a bubble and allow to cook, stirring now and then, for a minute or two.
Take the mixture off the heat and add the vanilla and pecans. Stir.
Pour over the hot shortbread.
Pop this in the oven and bake until bubbly all over.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into bars.
You can either dig in or go one step further and dip the ends in chocolate. I won’t judge. Either way works.
They do look so fancy with the chocolate, though.
One note. I actually thought these tasted better after they sat for a day or two. The shortbread softened a bit and everything really melded together. It might just be me. If you don’t agree, then okay. But if you do, then I told ya so!
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 heaping cups of whole pecans
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350℉. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan with parchment paper or foil leaving some excess hanging over the ends.
To make the shortbread, cut the butter into ½ inch cubes. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter with the flour, brown sugar and salt until the mixture begins to form tiny lumps (the size of peas) and it looks sandy. This should take 30-45 seconds. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and evenly press the shortbread into the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 18 – 20 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the filling. Start by roughly chopping the pecans. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, honey, heavy cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally, for 1 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and the pecans. Pour on top of the hot shortbread crust and spread as evenly as possible. Bake until bubbling evenly all over, about 14- 16 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before lifting out of the baking pan. Cut into bars.
At this point you can serve the bars. If you prefer, melt the chocolate according to the package and dip the ends of the bars. Allow the chocolate to harden before serving or storing.
Source: Blue-Eyed Bakers