Thinking of making a pie for Thanksgiving but don't want the extra hassle of making the pie crust? Here's a tasty solution. I made this last week as an alternative to the usual pecan pie my dad requests for his birthday. We all love that pie, but it's pretty over the top. I was trying to think of a way to enjoy the flavor but in smaller increments. A bar cookie version seemed like a way to have a thinner layer of pie filling and also, could be cut into whatever size bars you'd like.
I used Rebecca Rather's pecan pie bar crust recipe. It's basically a brown sugar shortbread. It's much, much, let me just say again, MUCH, easier to make than a pie crust and frankly, much better than any crust pairing I've tried with this pecan pie filling. Rather's recipe makes a huge batch. I cut her proportions in half to make a 9x9 inch square pan version. We still got about 2 dozen small bars out of it. I used our favorite pecan pie filling, posted previously, from the Park Cafe outside of Glacier National Park. I ended up with a little more filling than I needed for that square pan, but I poured the 1/2 cup excess filling and pecans into a little baking dish and had a chef's treat, or in this case, a chef's husband's treat.
My dad called the next day saying his office co-workers (with whom he'd shared his treats) demanded the recipe, and BEFORE Thanksgiving they said. So here it is.
Pecan Pie Bars
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan. Cut 2 8-inch pieces of parchment paper to fit across the baking pan and over the sides. Place these in the pan and spray again with cooking spray. (These are really, really sticky. Even with the parchment, double spraying and in a nonstick pan, they were still a little sticky to remove so go the extra mile. You don't want to have to chip them out of the pan.)
Beat the butter in a mixer on medium speed about one minute. Add the flour and salt and mix on low until the flour is incorporated and the dough is crumbly.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. It's ok if it extends up the sides just a little.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until it turns a deep, golden brown. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.
(You can rinse out the same mixer bowl and paddle and reuse them here.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup Karo syrup (light syrup or half light and half dark)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans, toasted
In the mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until completely combined and the butter is light and fluffy.
Add the Karo syrup, eggs, salt and vanilla and mix together well.
Remove from the mixer and stir in the pecans.
Pour all but about 1/2 cup of filling and pecans into prepared pan with crust. Set pan on a cookie sheet.
Pour remaining filling and pecans into a small ramekin or baking dish. Set this on the side of the same cookie sheet.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes until set. (Ramekin can be removed after about 20 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool completely. Then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Remove from pan using overhanging parchment as handles. Remove parchment and cut on a board into squares.
Store in refrigerator if you have any left. You probably won't.
Number of servings depends on how big you want to cut the squares. Could be 12 or 24. You can easily double this recipe, but keep it mind that it will be easier to remove in two square pans rather than one big pan.
Crust recipe adapted from Rebecca Rather's The Pastry Queen cookbook.