Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Shortbread Pecan Bars

This past Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law wanted to contribute something to the feast. He ended up making these pecan bars, even though he doesn't like pecans. At first I was a little worried about what he was going to create in the kitchen since I've never witnessed his baking skills before. I still wasn't too sure what the outcome would be while he was in the kitchen, but once these came out of the oven I couldn't wait for them to cool down. As he was cutting the bars and discarding the uneven edges, I was there as the trusty scavenger, ready to eat each rejected edge as it was cut off.

These bars were so good that everyone aside from the anti-pecan people (cough, Brian, cough) thought they were great. We had a few leftover the next 2 days and they were still great then. Do not attempt to heat these up, it'll just make the pecans melt apart. I tried to warm one up and realized that it just made a huge (but still delicious) mess. These bars make a great dessert to bring along to someone's house or party since they're pretty durable and won't fall apart/over in the car. If you love pecan pies, but want to try making them in a new way, this bar is the way to go.

Adapted from Martha Stewart via Not Derby Pie
Makes 24 bars (or 48 if you make them smaller)

For the Shortbread:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup or 113 grams) butter
1 egg

For the Pecan Topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup of 113 grams) butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons bourbon or brandy
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (about 2 cups) coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat your ove to 375ºF/190ºC. Line a 9x13 inch (23x33 cm) baking pan with foil. This will make it much easier to remove the bars from the pan and cleanup will be quick too. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms fine crumbs. Add the egg and pulse until the dough just comes together.

Press this dough into the bottom of your prepared pan to form an even layer. Place in the freezer until the dough is firm, about 15 minutes.

Once firm, prick the dough with a fork and bake until it is lightly golden (22 to 25 minutes). Allow to cool.

In the meantime, bring the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Whisk constantly until the texture is smooth, then stop whisking and allow it to boil until it darkens a little, about 2 more minutes.

Remove mixture from heat. Mix in the bourbon or brandy, cream, salt, and pecans.

Spoon the prepared filling evenly over the crust. Make the surface and even and flat as possible, using the back of your spoon if needed.

Place in the oven and back for about 18 to 22 minutes, until the pecan mixture is bubbling and amber colored. Allow to cool in the pan.

Once cool, lift the entire dessert out of the pan using the foil. Gently peel off the foil. If you want a cleaner finish, cut off the edges. For 48 squares, cut crosswise into 8 strips, then cut each strip into 6 pieces. Pin It Now!

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