Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 5 Christmas Countdown: Caramel Pecan Bars

I never really liked tasting pecans unless they were sugar glazed pecans. For a girl like me, I would never love things just plain. For example, if I had a hot dog, I must always drizzle it with my favorite condiments. Anyways, when I was reading this recipe, I was skeptical about how it would taste like when it was done. And wow! I could not believe how much I was missing out on pecans! The flaky crust and the sweet caramel mixture with the pecans made it oh-so good! It only took about an hour and a half of my time to make this and it was worth it ;)

Caramel Pecan Bars

For the crust:
18 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp. granulated sugar 
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt

For the topping:
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 lb. pecans, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. For the crust: Beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter until just combined.  
  3. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 9×13-inch baking pan. The dough will be very sticky, so you can use a piece of plastic wrap around your fingers to help prevent the dough from sticking to you. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.  
  4. Once the crust has cooled a bit, it will have shrunk away from the sides of the pan. Cut long, thin strips of parchment paper and stick them between the crust and the pan.  This will help prevent the filling from oozing underneath the crust, and from sticking to the pan.
  5. For the topping: Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar and citrus zests in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and chopped pecans.  Pour over the crust.  
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve. Once cooled, dip half of each bar in melted chocolate and allow to set on wax paper, if desired.

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