Pecan Pie Bars

DSCN2112 This recipe has been adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, easily one of my favorite and most well-worn texts. These bars differ from traditional pecan-pie like desserts in that we are not using corn syrup- sugar, yes- but nothing overly processed.  I’m sure that these could get even “healthier” (!?)- but for something this delicious, I’m not up for messing with it much more! The starting lineup:

Ingredients, all lined up!
Ingredients, all lined up!

Yep- that’s it.  Oh, except for the 2 tablespoons of heavy cream that were to lazy to get out of the fridge and into the picture.  Oh well. You also need your large food processor- the shortbread crust is made in there.  Let’s start with the crust- which definitely is more cookie than pie crust.  The way I like it. First, cut the cold butter into cubes: DSCN2056 DSCN2057 Measure the flour-  1 cup of regular AP flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour.  Also measure and add 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar and a good teaspoon of salt.  This is a sweet dish, so it is important to have a balance of salty and sweet! Add the flour, sugar and salt to the food processor, and add the butter in 3 increments (so there isn’t a giant butter lump- defeats the purpose of cutting the butter!). (PS… ignore all of the physical therapy/torture tools at the end of the counter. Tennis balls, rolly sticks, etc are ALL over our house… also the other general clutter.  This is what life is actually like.  It does not occur on a pristine photo backdrop!  Although, if someone with skilz wants to come over and avail themselves to me on a baking/food production day- I wouldn’t protest!) DSCN2063DSCN2064 DSCN2066 Check out those pajama pants, baby!  Getting dressed is for losers.  Your shortbread crust should resemble wet sand- you will notice an audible change as you whir the processor when the dough begins to come together. Pour the dough into an ungreased 13×9″ pan. DSCN2067 DSCN2068Press the dough into an even layer.  I use my offset spatula to help with this- it gets into the corners and helps me to create an even surface. Bake the crust at 350 for 20 minutes, until it is golden brown. Meanwhile…..  Make the FILLING.  The whole reason we are even making these, right? I came up with a nut-chopping fix that I think is pretty clever, if you have a relatively sturdy/sharp pastry cutter- DSCN2072DSCN2073 See? 2 cups of pecans, roughly chopped.  No extra food processing or fancy slap-chopping nut cutter required.  You can also spread them out on a cutting board and give them a rough chop- just be aware that this can send errant nuts flying across the kitchen. I’m a little meh on that. Measure out the rest of the ingredients- 1 cup of light brown sugar, 1/2 cup honey, and 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Melt a stick of butter in a medium sized pot (one that can hold the wet ingredients and all of the pecans), and add the sugar, honey, cream, and a pinch of salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to medium and let it bubble for a couple of minutes. DSCN2077 DSCN2078 DSCN2079After the mixture has cooked for a couple of minutes, add the pecans and remove from the heat.  Ugh, my stove.  I need to use the super strong cleaner (that cleaned my fingernails right off the last time I used it) again on this baby… the marathon cooking has taken its toll! Pretty soon the shortbread will be coming out of the oven!  I can smell it! DSCN2082 DSCN2085 DSCN2087Pour the pecan mixture onto the hot shortbread.  DO NOT lick the pecan mixture, it was JUST BOILING.  Sugar is super duper hot when it has been boiling, and holds its heat for a long time.  Just saying. Put the confection back into the oven for another 20 minutes, until bubbling all over. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into bars.  The original recipe suggest 24.  I probably cut them much smaller, since I am a huge fan of lots of small bites of dessert. I would show you a beautiful stack of glistening bars- but the reality is that I cut a small corner, ate it (quality control!) and then wrapped them tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil and it went down to the chest freezer to wait for Thanksgiving. DSCN2108 See, bubbles?  Done. DSCN2112As close to a glamor shot these are going to get (for now).

Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
For the Shortbread
  • 12 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup AP Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • ½ Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
For Filling
  • 2 Cups Pecans (8oz)
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup packed light brown sugar
  • ⅓ Cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Lage food processor
  • 9x13" Pan
  1. Cut butter into cubes.
  2. Add flour, sugar, and salt to a large food processor. Add the butter in 3 increments and process until the mixture resembles wet sand and when pressed together holds its shape
  3. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9x13" pan
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until golden brown.
  1. Roughly chop the pecans.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the sugar, honey, cream, and salt.
  3. Bring to a boil then cook for a few minutes (less than 3, more than 1)- mixture will thicken slightly.
  4. Add the pecan, stir to incorporate, and remove from heat.
When the shortbread crust is done, remove it from the oven and top the hot crust with the filling. Put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes, until bubbling all over.

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One Response to Pecan Pie Bars

  1. Linda B says:

    Thank you! I may make these tomorrow instead of pecan pie. Have a great Thanksgiving!!

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