Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pecan Pie Squares

For as long as I can remember, pecan pie has been one of my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts. My grandma always made it for those two holidays and it was always served with heaps of generously sweetened homemade whipped cream.

Since then, I've tried some variations over the years. Caramel pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, and pumpkin pecan pie to name a few. And honestly, I haven't met one yet that I didn't like.

But this year for Thanksgiving, since we had a crowd of 24 people meeting up at my parents' home, 13 of which are the grandkids, I figured a traditional pie wouldn't be the best option. They're a little tricky to cut, kids would likely end up with more than they wanted and that precious pie might be wasted, plus a lot of people just want a small taste and not necessarily the commitment of a whole piece of pie.

These were a perfect solution. The recipe makes a 13 x 9" pan, so there's plenty to go around when you cut little squares. Dessert-seekers could grab one to sample and still have room on their plate (and in their stomach) to have some of the other dessert options.

Now, these pecan pie squares aren't exactly like pecan pie. They have more of a toffee, chewy texture on a shortbread crust, which is reminiscent of pecan pie in flavor but very distinctly different.

I thought some of us die-hard pecan pie fans would feel deprived of our tradition - but you know what? I didn't hear a single complaint. What I did hear was lots of compliments and requests for more.

Personally, I couldn't keep out of them. I was astonished at how addictive they were - and even non-pecan pie eaters enjoyed them. They're not messy, easily portable, small portions, and absolutely scrumptious.

I'm making them again for Christmas. Can't WAIT!!

Pecan Pie Squares
from Rebekah's Family, Food, and Fun

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped pecans (chop first, then measure)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13 x 9" pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides. 
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, make crust by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add in the flour and salt and mix until crumbly. 
  3. Press the crust into the foil-lined pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey, and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and vanilla.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven and pour the pecan filling on top, spreading to cover surface completely. 
  6. Return pan to oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. 
  7. Remove the pan and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. 
  8. Using the foil overhang, lift the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and cut into squares. 
Store in a sealed container at room temperature. Bars will remain delicious for several days.  

Source: adapted slightly from Just a Taste

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