Pecan Bars – bite size!

November 10, 2010

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Thanksgiving is around the corner and I always bake, among many other things, my “famous” pecan pie.  My mother-in-law LOVES pecan pie and Thanksgiving, generally, falls on or around her birthday. Pecan pie usually adorns our dessert table – with a candle in it while nine adoring grandchildren, sing happy birthday to their “nana”!

I have been making this recipe for about 20 years and it just gets better with age.  Originally, I followed the recipe, exactly.  Then, as the years went on, I realized that I didn’t like the crust and worked really hard to find the right balance between the dry ingredients, the fats, and the wet ingredients.  I now have one basic pie crust that I use pretty much for all pies and tarts. And the filling evolved as well.  I now make it more like a tart rather than a pie.  Makes eating a small slice much more friendly.

I wanted to experiment a little this year and had an idea to make bite sized pecan bars.  I reinvented the filling for my pecan pie and made these in a 13″ x 9″ pan.  These bars have a shortbread crust and I replaced the white sugar with sucanat.  This is not my original pie filling, but it is a pretty good version of it.

I loved these bars. I am going to make them one more time before Thanksgiving and make them in mini muffin tins.  They will be more like a “tassie” rather than a bar. I think I am going to wrap these up, in little individual boxes and give to all the kids teachers as a little pre-Thanksgiving treat!

Pecan “Pie” Bars
yields: 32 mini bites

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sucanat (or white sugar)
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup organic butter, cut into cubes
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

for the shortbread:
• preheat oven to 350*
• butter a 13″ x 9″ metal pan.  line with parchment and butter the parchment.
• combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your food processor.  pulse a few times.  add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
• press dough evenly into prepared pan.
• bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the edges of the dough are light brown.
for the filling:
• while the crust is baking, combine the sucanat, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup of butter in a heavy bottom pan.  bring to a boil over low to medium heat.  Once boiled, immediately remove from heat.
• beat eggs in a medium bowl.
• ladle a small amount of the mixture into the beaten eggs.  do this a few times to temper the eggs (so they don’t scramble and cook on you).  once tempered add the rest of the hot mixture to the eggs and combine.
• stir in the pecans, salt, and the vanilla.  mix thoroughly.
• pour over cooked shortbread
• bake for 32-35 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles when you shake the pan.
• cool completely on a wire rack.  once cooled set in fridge for about an hour.  this makes cutting them a bit easier.  cut into desired size bars or bites.

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