I decided I wanted to make something special for Kurt. He’s been so understanding of my sleep deprivation and desire to be left alone (and you know what that means). Really, for about a month my coughing increased by an order of magnitude once I went horizontal. I ended up sleeping on Grace’s room (yes, she has her own room) propped upon a pyramid of pillows because I knew he needed to get a good night’s sleep for work while I could wander through the day in my zombie state.
Initially, I thought I’d make him a pecan pie. MY pecan pie. It’s one of the few recipes I actually created on my own, after having tasted a delicious pecan pie in a little cafe in Asheville, NC. Kurt’s mom makes a good pie, but the slice I had in Asheville was the best I ever had. I even brought a pie home for Kurt and he suggested I figure out how to make it myself. So I came up with my very own recipe and now it’s a Thanksgiving must-have dessert. I egregiously lost a copy this year and thankfully my pal Minnie, who says she makes it for her family now, sent me a copy.
Yet, my Pinterest board was calling my name… I had recently pinned a recipe for Pecan Pie Bars that I thought would be fun for Kurt– he could take them to work! I had a similar pecan bar cookie, but these glistened in their photo and I decided to taste test them. Today. For Kurt. His patience with typhoid Maria.
Of course I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, so my adapted recipe is below; the original recipe is here. Note that these bars do not have the gooey custard consistency of pecan pie (I originally envisioned a final product with the consistency of lemon curd bars); you’ll see from the filling ingredients that they are more like pecan praline bars– even better, in my opinion!
Praline Pecan Bars adapted from Pecan Pie Bars (see link above)
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened (8 oz total)
- 2/3 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 2 2/3 cup AP flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz)
- 1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 2 TB cream
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- squeeze of lemon juice
- 2 cups of chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Put the brown sugar and butter for the crust in a bowl:
Mix on medium (otherwise the butter will fly all over the place). This is what “creamed” looks like:
Add vanilla, flour and salt:
Mix on low to start (again to avoid the fly-away flour spray); DO NOT OVER MIX!
Tumble the dough into the pan:
Flour your hands if the dough sticks to them when you touch it, and evenly pat the dough into the pan. Make sure you push it out all the way to the corners since this kind of dough shrinks when you bake it.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes; the crust will be golden brown.
While the crust was baking, I tossed the brown sugar, salt, honey, cream and butter for the filling into a heavy-bottomed saucepan:
Heat the saucepan over medium heat and stir contents until dissolved:
Let the contents come to a boil and boil for approximately one minute; there will be big bubbles on the surface:
Add the pecans:
Add the squeeze of lemon and the vanilla; stir to combine and set aside.
When the crust is done, it will look like this:
Pour the pecan mixture over the crust and spread it evenly across the surface. I used a plastic spatula.
Bake for another 20 minutes; my batch actually took about 18 minutes. Make sure you check a little before the 20 minutes to make sure the sugar is not burning (if you smell burnt sugar, you’re too late).
Cool til the pan is no longer hot (really, I don’t remember timing this, but you want the bars to have cooled down til they’re firm enough to slice). I sliced mine 6×4.
For dinner, I made chicken roasted over onions, fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat, and green beans– a pretty substantial dinner since I also serve baguette to sop up the pan juices (so good with the burnt onion flavor). I took pics for those dishes, but since the bar recipe has filled up a lot of column inches for a single read, you’ll have to wait.
As for Kurt? His first and last course was dessert– so happy he LOVES them!