Sometime before Thanksgiving, I was trying to decide between pecan pie and pumpkin pie..a very serious problem =O. So, I played the husband card and had Tim decide. Though he picked pumpkin pie, I also wanted to do something with the big bag of pecans from Costco. HMM…I remember seeing this recipe in my recipe binder of sweets, so I pulled it out. I’m glad I made it, because they are SO goood! If you need more reasons to make these, I’ll list 7:
1) No corn syrup. (I am not a fan of its gloopiness)
2) 7 ingredients only, including salt o.O
3) Super easy to make. Really. easy. No need to even buy leavening agents.
4) Has whole wheat flour, so you can say these are whole grain
5) Passed the co-worker test (Tim’s coworkers) with flying colors!
6) Have a great shelf life and stay chewy for a long time (if they stick around that long)
7) Are sturdy, packable and would be great for care packages for friends
It’s everything you want in a pecan bar- chewy, crunchy, nutty, sweet, and just a little salty. Best of all, I actually think that using whole wheat flour enhances the nuttiness, as it seems to be a perfect match for all that sugar and nuts.
Chewy Pecan Bars
lightly adapted from Epicurious
Part I: Shortbread base
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Part II: Pecan topping
2 cups pecans (8 ounces)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp heavy cream
Large pinch of kosher salt
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Using a food processor, blend all the shortbread ingredients until they look like wet sand, and clump when pressed together. Press into an even layer on a parchment lined (important!) 13×9 inch pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, at which point you should take it out and leave the oven on. While you wait, prep the filling ingredients.
2) Using the same food processor (no need to wash!), pulse some or all the pecans to your liking- some like an even distribution of particle size, and some people, like me, prefer some whole pecans and some coarsely ground. Do as you wish to get whatever result you prefer.
3) In a saucepan, brown the butter: melt the butter over medium low heat, until the milk solids (originally white little flecks) get brown, and the liquid fat part clears up.
4) Add the brown sugar, honey, cream, and salt, and simmer until the brown sugar is all dissolved. Stir in the pecans.
5) Pour the pecan mixture over the warm shortbread and spread to make sure all parts of the shortbread are covered by topping. If you wish, sprinkle lots of fleur de sel evenly over the surface of the topping. bake in the 350F oven for about 20 minutes, OR until the topping is bubbling . If you eat it out of the oven, it will taste hot and fresh. BUT, you wait for it completely cool / the next day to eat these, you will be rewarded with chewy topping and crunchy crust that begs you to keep eating!
-If you don’t have whole wheat flour, you can use all purpose flour, but just know that your mileage may vary, and it may not be aaas tasty as if you used whole wheat.
-You can use walnuts instead, if you wish!