Caramel Pecan Bars
My older brother C loves pecan pie. So I knew I wanted to make something with pecan in it to take over to his in-laws for Thanksgiving. Everyone enjoyed these bars which are very similar to pecan pie, but with a caramel sauce instead of the typical corn syrup sauce that pecan pie has. This made for a richer, thicker filling that tasted amazing.
I toasted my pecans because I always toast my nuts when using them in a recipe. It brings out the flavor of the nuts more than the raw flavor. I had some difficulty with the crust because my kitchen was very warm when I made these. I had to rechill the dough multiple times but in the end it worked out just fine.
These bars can be made in advance and stored at room temperature for about a week which is always helpful.
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Caramel Pecan Bars – as seen on Delicious Dishings, originally from Food and Wine – makes 16 large bars
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup ice water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound pecan halves, toasted, and 1/2 chopped
In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and vinegar and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs out onto a sheet of wax paper and knead just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to an 11- by-15-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick). Trim the dough to a 9-by-13-inch rectangle and place it in the baking pan. Cut the remaining dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips and press them up the side of the pan to form a rim all around. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.
Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the dough is just set. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the crust for about 12 minutes longer, until lightly golden and set. Let cool.
In a large saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, honey and salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until foamy and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder (if using) and cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted in the caramel registers 240° (soft ball stage), about 10 minutes longer. Add the pecans and cook for 2 minutes longer. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading it evenly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbling. Let cool completely. Slide the parchment onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and serve.