Sunday, November 27, 2011

Black Friday Pecan Bars

This year I have a lot to be thankful for, including spending Thanksgiving at my friends’ house. However, I didn’t want to miss out on leftovers so I skipped the Black Friday madness to stay home and make a post-Thanksgiving dinner, complete with pecan bars for dessert. These bars are delicious and taste very similar to a pecan pie, except they are a little less sweet because the filling is sweetened with honey instead of lots of sugar.

Pecan Bars
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pecan Bar recipe
For the Crust
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, 
   room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
For the Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 ounces) pecan halves
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Make crust: Put butter and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in salt. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Continue mixing until dough begins to come together in large clumps.
Press dough about 1/4 inch thick into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Pierce the dough with fork. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, while waiting for dough to chill, preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
Once crust is almost completely cool, begin to make the filling: Place butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, and heavy cream in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly until mixture coats back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in salt, nuts, and vanilla. Pour filling onto the cooled crust.
Bake until filling bubbles, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1 by 3-inch bars. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week (I think they taste best the day after they are baked.)

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