Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pecan Bars

We've been traveling. We had a lovely visit back east with my family. I was itchin' to get back in the kitchen, though. Eileen made the banana bread while we were there. She used margarine, instead of butter, and baked the bread as one loaf in a glass pan. Delicious! We celebrated my grandmother's 88th birthday. We had a good time. Sending thanks to my family- we had a great visit!
While I was away, I kept thinking about Thanksgiving. This being a cooking holiday, I get very excited. I'm making the pies- pumpkin and apple, and I made some dinner rolls( for a future post). My father-in-law likes pecan pie. We never had pecan pie in my family. It was always pumpkin and apple- maybe some rogue cherry would show up, but always apple and pumpkin. I don't make pecan pie. It's not that I'm against it, but jeez, there's only going to be 6 of us this year, including the baby. We can't eat 3 pies. Well, we could, but we shouldn't. And I have to have apple and pumpkin. So I was watching Ina the other day, (you know where this is going: BUTTER), and I saw her make these pecan squares, dipped in chocolate. I don't know how you could eat one of these dipped in chocolate. They are so sweet and so good. I really wasn't crazy about them the first or second day. By today, though, I ate 1 1/2, and had to force myself to forget they were in the fridge. Ina says this yields 20 bars. I got 48. You should cut them small. They are super rich. So my father-in-law will have some pecan something, and I don't think he'll miss his pie. This comes from the indispensable Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Pecan Squares

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp. good vanilla
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup honey
3 cups light brown sugar*
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 X 12 X 1 inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

* I ran out of brown sugar and had to use the home substitution- molasses and granulated sugar. 1 cup of brown sugar= 1 cup granulated sugar + 1/2 cup molasses. I wonder if the bars are different if you follow the directions.
The dough was indeed very sticky. It was pretty tough getting into the pan and making it even.
You really do want a large saucepan. The sugar can boil up and scare the bejeesits out of you.
You will get the filling between the crust and the pan.
Husband was at a driving event and Abbie and I went to see him. I wanted to bring him some bars, so I cut them before they were cool. Don't do that.
Ina puts in a note that the filling will bubble over the edge of the pan in the oven. It does, and it did. But she says to put tinfoil or a larger baking sheet on a lower oven rack. I did, but I thought, why didn't I just put the tinfoil directly under the pan in the oven, instead of letting it drip between the racks.


Aundra said...

They are so good. And I'm sure Dad will love them!

Grammy said...
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