logo


no avatar

Pecan cookie bars that will make you forget the pie

By Leah Eskin • Jan 7, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Pecan pie is good — in theory. Who quibbles with pie? Or pecan? And yet, the two pleasures, united in the oven, separate. Flaky pastry clings to the bottom of the pan. Crisp nuts rise to the top. In between lurks a layer of goo. There’s no explaining this strange alchemy — short of reading an actual recipe.

Better to simply simplify. Pecan bars cut to the crunch: tender shortbread below, caramelized nuts above. With little interference in between. A few chocolate chunks, perhaps. But who quibbles with chocolate?

The bars, short and sweet, are compact enough to count as cookie — no need for fork, fridge or fear.

———

PECAN BARS

Prep: 30 minutes

Bake: 20 minutes

Makes: 32 bars

Nuts

2 1/2 cups pecan halves

Pastry:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

10 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Top:

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup dark chocolate disks, chips or chunks

1. Toast: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out pecans on a rimmed baking sheet; slide into oven and toast until nuts darken slightly and give off a sweet, nutty fragrance, about 6 minutes. Pull out pan; leave oven on. Pour nuts onto a work surface to cool.

2. Grind: Measure 1/2 cup toasted pecans into the food processor. Pile in all pastry ingredients, in order. Process to a soft dough, about 30 seconds.

3. Par-bake: Line a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang. Pat in pastry. (Cover pastry with waxed paper while patting if dough is sticky). Bake until dry to the touch, but still soft, 10 minutes. Pull out pan; leave oven on.

4. Caramelize: To make the top, scatter sugar into a heavy skillet. Heat over medium-high until sugar melts and turns caramel brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining toasted pecans and turn down heat to low. Stir in the butter, cream, salt and vanilla. Pull pan off heat. Scatter in chocolate and stir once, just enough to mix in, not completely melt, the chocolate.

5. Bake: Scrape nut mixture over par-baked pastry. Bake, 10 minutes. Cool completely. Grasp parchment overhang and lift out. Slice into 2-by-1-inch bars; you should have 32. Enjoy.

———

©2018 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Norwalk Reflector Videos