This is a recipe I first tried one Easter. I’d been in a baking rut, and the Pecan Caramel Bar Cookies pulled me out of it. These are a little different from the usual Pecan Pie Bars in that they do not call for corn syrup. They have a butter cookie crust and a caramel-pecan topping where the caramel is made the old fashioned way – with sugar and heat.
I know a thing or two about making almond toffee, and my pralines are pretty good these days, but caramelizing sugar by itself in a pan scares me, and I suspect this fear is based on a bad experience using the wrong pan. So this time I used my new All-Clad stainless 2 quart saucepan and everything worked perfectly – no scorching, burning, ruined pans.
These are excellent and the recipe makes just enough bars to eat and share. The original full batch recipe is on Epicurious and if you make it, read the reviews first. Most people cut 10 minutes off the crust’s bake time. I had to alter the bake times for the half batch. My half batch version is below.
Pecan Caramel Bar Cookies
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 (1 ml) teaspoon baking powder
1/4 (1 ml) teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (95 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 ml) lightly beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) vanilla
3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons (40 grams) unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) vanilla
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
1 cup (114 grams) pecans, toasted cooled, and coarsely chopped
Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.. Beat in egg and vanilla, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Press dough into bottom of pan and chill for about 20 minutes (I used wet hands to press…it helped).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When dough is chilled, bake it for about 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Let it cool on a rack while you make the pecan topping.
Cook sugar in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted to a deep golden caramel. Tilt pan and carefully pour in cream (caramel will harden and steam vigorously). Since this is a small batch, you’ll need to watch a little closer for burning at this point. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, salt, and pecans.
Quickly spread topping over cooled crust and bake until bubbling, about 13 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack (Mine were cool enough to cut in 1 hour, but they firmed up considerably after I’d cut them). Grasp foil, lift bars from pan and cut into triangles or squares. I cut mine into 9 squares then cut those squares to make 18 triangles.
I just made these! SO tasty! I guess I was thinking more “pecan pie” but the “pecan caramel” was a pleasant surprise! I almost decided not to put the topping onto the cookie base and just eat it out of the bowl!
hum, with caramel, can i tast it???
Anna, you got me on a roll! After I made the original, I made a “Samoa / Coconut” version 🙂 I blogged about it on my website.
I still think I like the pecan version the best. (Pecans are just THAT WONDERFUL!) But the other version is really good too! Thanks again for sharing!
I made this recipe last night (I made a full batch to use up some heavy cream)… and… W.O.W.!! These are absolutely amazing!! I’ve never made caramel before, and it seemed like it took forever… but I did it – and it was COMPLETELY worth it! I baked my crust layer less, like some of the comments said too – worked perfectly 😀 Thanks for finding and sharing, Anna!!
I just found your wonderful site so thrilled to read and imagine how wonderful your recipes taste….google sent me here what a winner!
oh fnatastic! these look so good 🙂
I can’t get my hubby to eat anything with pecans in it. I may just have to make these when he is out of town! Yum!
I love caramel bars!! The best part is the stick it to your teeth quality..haha. Those look fabulous!
You should try the Rustic Nut bars on Gourmet too. But use a different base as the one in the recipe is too dry. And, Wahoo for All-Clad. I love them. Plus, the stainless ones go into the dishwasher. 🙂
I saw your comments on my blog; thanks for all the advice! I will definitely try that pudding cookie recipe with the oreos pudding! Great idea!
And your bars look delicious, as always. Happy Easter!
Those look awesome!
As much as I love chocolate, I agree with you that a chocolate cake doesn’t seem to fit the season. I’ve always done lemon and strawberries.
I’m so full right now I could….well, you know…anyway, the bars still look good despite my fullness! 😉
I’m starting to overcome my fear of cooking sugar since joining TWD, Dorie seems to love doing that!
Happy Easter. It’s been rainy all day here.
Mmm, these look delicious. Maybe, I, too, can get over my fear of caramelizing sugar by itself. I seem to have the worst luck with that. Add some water to the sugar and ask me to boil it–no problem. Ask me to boil the sugar by itself, and somehow, I manage to burn it every time (even with a candy thermometer). You’ve inspired me to try again. And these bars look magnificent!
what a great way to get out of that rut 🙂
Jen Schall @ My Kitchen Addiction
These look delicious! I love caramel!
WOW…glad you got out of the ‘rut’…& in such style! These caramel bars ROCK! I like th eold-fashioned sugar+heat caramel=YUM!!
Oh my goodness – those caramel bars look so indulgent! oh boy i think my family would love!
No worries about not making the chocolate cake – what you DID make sounds delish.
Oh my, CARAMEL bars?!?!??!?!?! **swoons**
Oh my, those look so good. I guess Texas minds think alike. I just posted on my blog about my chocolate, caramel, and salt strawberries. I also made a sugar free strawberry pie for Easter.
Happy Easter to you and your family! These bars look realllly good! Thanks.
Claire said exactly what I was thinking!
Those look fantastic! Angel food cake is the perfect Easter dessert…so light and fluffy.