This recipe was an experiment of “what if?” I was in the mood to make a nut bar, but I had trouble finding a recipe that had all of the elements I was looking for. I really wanted something that was nice and thick, with the taste of a pie, but in bar form, with a decent about of nuts. I decided to just use my pecan pie recipe and see what happens. Instead of a pie crust, I used a sweet pastry dough crust which is a cross between a shortbread and pie crust.
Instead of using a 13x9x2 inch pan, I used a ¼ sheet pan, hoping that it would be the right height (I really don’t know what I was thinking at the time). The crust went in the pan just fine, but the filling looked like it was going to overflow, so I had a little extra filling left over. I chopped the pecans and put as much in as my pan could handle.
In the end, it was….cute. The taste was great, but I didn’t get the height I was looking for, and just like a real pecan pie, the nuts rose to the top. I will definitely try this again, but the next time I will use a deeper pan i.e., 13x9x2 inch and also make the crust a little thicker.
Pecan Pie Bars
Sweet Pastry Dough
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ice water
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups pecan halves (1/2 pound) chopped
Make the sweet pastry dough
Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together yolk and water with a fork and stir into flour mixture until combined well.
Gently knead mixture in bowl with floured hands just until a dough forms. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 4 or 5 times more. Form dough into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
Make the filling
Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13x9 inch rectangle and press into the 1/4 sheet pan. Lightly prick bottom all over with a fork if using a pie plate. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes (or freeze 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, whisking until relatively smooth. It may look a bit clumpy and may stick to your whisk, but the syrup will smooth everything out. Remove from heat and whisk in corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl, then whisk in corn syrup mixture.
Put pecans in pan and pour corn syrup mixture evenly over them. Bake on hot baking sheet until filling is set, about 40min. Cool completely.