Pecan (nut) trees are native to Mexico and the south-central and south-eastern regions of the United States. Before European settlement, pecans were widely consumed and traded by Native Americans.
Dessert bars, or simply bars or squares, are a type of American ‘bar cookie’ that has the texture of a firm cake or softer than usual cookie. They are prepared in a pan and then baked in the oven. They are cut into squares or rectangles. Therefore, pecan bars are as American as cookies can get!
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
For the crust
• 216 g/ 8 oz unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
+ 14 g/ 1 Tbsp for greasing the pan & parchment paper
• ½ tsp salt
• 165 g/ ¾ cup-packed light brown sugar
• 380 g/ 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
For the topping
• 113 g/ 4 oz unsalted butter
• ¼ tsp salt
• 75 g/ 1/3 cup-packed light brown sugar
• 50 g/ 4 Tbsp granulated sugar
• 125 g/ 6 Tbsp honey
• 30 ml/ 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
• ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
• 215 g/ 7.5 oz pecan halves or pecan pieces, preferably fresh and high quality
◊ Prepare a 23cm x 33cm (9″ x 13″) baking-pan by brushing lightly with butter all over and line with parchment paper, leaving at least 5cm (2″) overhang on all four sides. Butter parchment paper too and set aside.
◊ To make the crust: In a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter until creamy. Sprinkle in salt, then brown sugar, little by little, and continue mixing until fluffy. Sprinkle flour ½ cup at a time, until fully incorporated after each addition.
◊ Empty dough into the prepared pan, spread evenly, flatten and press tightly. Dock/prick the crust with a fork all over (docking lets the steam escape so the pie crust doesn’t puff up in the oven). Place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes for it to take shape and harden.
◊ Place rack on middle oven shelf and preheat to 190°C / 375°F.
◊ Place the chilled baking-pan with the crust in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Take out of oven and place it on cooling rack and let it completely cool.
◊ Turn off the oven and 20 minutes later, turn on heat to 160°C / 325°F.
◊ To make the topping: Over high-heat, in a medium sized saucepan, melt butter, add salt, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and combine well. Add honey and combine well. Add cream, vanilla, and combine well. Add pecan nuts, mix well and remove from the heat. Pour the mixture over the baked crust, spread, straighten, smooth the top and place it in the oven, bake until topping starts bubbling (15 ~ 20 minutes). Remove from oven and place on cooling rack and let it cool completely.
◊ Carefully, gently, hold the overhang parchment paper, lift the pecan pie and place it on a large cutting board. (Use a small knife to run around the edges/corners of the pan to loosen, if necessary.)
◊ Using a very sharp knife, cut it into 5cm x 5cm (2″ x 2″) squares or 2.5 cm x 7.5 cm (1″ x 3″) bars. In an airtight container, at room temperature, the bars can be stored for 1 week.
~ Bon Appétit! ~
Happy Valentines Day!