Chewy Pecan Bars

I joked to a friend of mine when I was planning on making these. “Guess how many sticks of butter?” I asked.

She knew it was Ina Garten, who is like the Paula Dean of East Hampton.

But she wasn’t prepared for, “Five sticks!!!”

And I wasn’t prepared for when I realized that I read the recipe wrong, and tromped back out to the store, for this called for not five, but NINE sticks of butter in total.

It’s fun to think about, when your heart starts beating again.

People loved these bars. Oscar Party attendees, family, friends, coworkers. They taste like pecan pie on top of your favorite shortbread cookie. Hints of orange and lemon zest make the pecan filling a bit different, but the pecan flavor is still the hero. I, however, will never make these again. Ever. For many reasons.

One reason is that they literally caught my oven on fire. The sugary pecan filling readily spilled over the sides of the baking sheet and onto the oven bottom, where it caught fire. I’ve had smoke in the oven before, but not fire. And then the sugary substance that caused the fire became so sticky that the bars were impossible to remove from the pan, even with all that butter! Talk about a labor of love.

I think my problem was that my baking sheet was too small. Bakers beware!

Chewy Pecan Bars

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup good honey
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and 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 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomedsaucepan. 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 heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 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.

Grant sprinkled a little extra coarse salt on his, which is always a nice thing.

Go on, friends, indulge! xoxo

3 responses to “Chewy Pecan Bars

  1. Oh my heavens. I know you already told me, but I was shocked AGAIN at the 9 sticks of butter…and yet, I still want to eat them. They look incredible.

  2. Oh my lord – lots of butter, but that means they must be delicious. They look utterly fantastic.

  3. You would make Julia Childs proud. 9 sticks of butter!!! I’m glad there was not a full blown fire in the kitchen as looking forward to many more delicious recipes of yours. Take care, BAM

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