Friday, July 3, 2009

4th of July Dessert: Pecan Bars

I suppose for Independence Day I should make a dessert that is red, white and blue, but oh well. I wanted something that is easy for people to eat, like a finger food. I didn't want to make cake or a jello trifle using red and blue jello layered with whipped cream. But hey, that is not a bad idea, so knock yourself out. My husband just loves pecan pie and this past November I discovered I love it too when I made it for him on his birthday. But again, I wanted to make bars or brownies of some sort, so I am attempting to make these Barefoot Contessa-inspired pecan bars.

Ingredients:
For the crust:
2 sticks of unsalted butter
granulated sugar
2 large eggs
vanilla extract
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Topping:
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1/2 cup good honey
1 and 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/8 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 lb chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with a padle attachment, until light, approx. 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla, mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased baking sheet, approx. 14 x 9 x 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. The dough will sticky so sprinkle it and your fingers with a little flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. (Good luck with that, it didn't quite work out for me, but I don't think it's a big deal.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

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