I enjoy the process of making pecan pie more than pecan pie bars, but bars are easier to serve so they are what I usually end up making. My favorite recipe — or at least the one I use most often, is probably Brown Sugar & Honey Pecan Bars. But now I have a new one! Like the Brown Sugar & Honey Pecan Bars, these Pecan Pie Bars are also made in an 8 inch square pan.
The original recipe is from one an old cookbook called Cookie by the Dozen. It’s now out of print, but if you are lucky you may find a copy in your local library. In the intro to the recipe the author describes these as “a favorite pie’s ingredients sandwiched between layers of brown sugar shortbread”. That is a very apt description, because these are more like shortbread bars than actual pecan pie. The layer of filling is compact and dense rather than egg-y, and because there’s brown sugar shortbread on bottom and a crumb topping, the shortbread flavor dominates. If you are wanting something truly more pecan pie like, I recommend using a recipe with more corn syrup and eggs. However, these are easy to serve and travel well.
Here’s the recipe as I make it. I use nonstick foil rather than cooking spray, and I prefer using melted butter in the shortbread rather than creaming it with the sugar. The bars are fairly quick to put together and only require about an hour’s cooling time.
- 1 stick (114 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (157 grams) plus another 3 tablespoons used separately (24 grams)
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (28 grams)
- 1/3 cup dark corn syrup (100 grams)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extra
- 1 cup toasted coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with nonstick foil. If you don't have any of the foil you can use regular foil and spray it with cooking spray.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter gently using one of the lower heat settings (50% power) until it is melted.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter with the brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Stir well, then add the flour and stir until blended. Measure out a packed half cup or weigh out 100 grams and put it in a a separate bowl.
- Press remaining shortbread dough into bottom of the pan and bake for 15 minutes or until set and lightly browned around edges.
- When the crust is done, reduce heat to 300 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, add 3 tablespoons of flour (24 grams) to the reserved 1/2 cup of dough and crumble it all together so that you have a topping.
- Combine the filling ingredients (melted butter, dark corn syrup, granulated sugar, egg, vanilla and pecans) and stir well, then pour over the baked crust.
- Sprinkle the topping mixture over the pecan mixture.
- If you haven't already reduced the heat, make sure it is at 300 degrees F.
- Bake the bars for about 40-45 minutes or until top is slightly browned and bars are firm.
- Let the bars cool for 20 minutes in the pan. Use foil as a handle and lift from pan, then score into 12 bars (do not separate yet) and let cool completely.