Pecan Pie Bars

I was looking over the recipes that we have posted on our blog so far, and realized two things:

1. Our blog has nearly reached the 100th post mark -- we currently have 97 posts (counting this one)
. Given that Gloria and I had been talking about setting up a blog for such a long time, this is quite gratifying -- expect a special post to celebrate this milestone!

2. In the past 97 posts, we have shared quite a few recipes for dessert. Sure, there is quite a bit of pasta mixed in and a few secondi, but Gloria and I clearly have a bit of a sweet tooth. Whether it be Italian ricotta pie, American peanut butter pie, or Danish fastelavnsboller, we love them all. 

Which got me thinking -- the recipe for my number one favorite dessert in the world isn't actually on this blog! How could I have in all this time not put a recipe for pecan pie on here? My apologies. Better late than never, right?

Pecan pie is not an Italian dessert, and it is not even a dessert that comes from my region of the United States -- in fact it is a dessert from the South, especially common in Texas, a state I have never traveled to. I made my first pecan pie in high school at the request of my Nonno, who also loved this dessert. I have him to thank for introducing me to one of my favorite things to bake and eat -- it was love at first bite. Besides the fact that pecan pie is super quick to throw together, it is sweet, crunchy, and gooey all at the same time, even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream. If you really want to take this dessert over the top, you can add chocolate chips or coconut to it, or go all out and add both as I used to do for my Nonno (who was also a huge coconut fan). Pecan coconut chocolate pie anyone?

You'll have noticed that this recipe is for pecan pie bars, not regular old pecan pie -- I noticed on that it was convenient to have a portable version of this dessert for holidays or birthdays, as pecan pie isn't the easiest dessert to eat when making the rounds. I made these recently as a birthday gift for my friend Costanza, a hugely talented pastry chef and owner of Dess'art in Testaccio. Making a dessert for a pastry chef is always a bit nerve wracking, but these got her stamp of approval (phew!) If that's not proof that you to make these bars asap, I don't know what is! Enjoy!



For the crust: 
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the filling: 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 and 3/4 cups pecans, toasted

For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Fold two large pieces of aluminum foil perpendicular to one another in the baking pan so that there is overhang around all the edges. Butter the aluminum foil.
Place the flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup pecans in a food processor. Process the mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand.

Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake until the crust is light brown, about 20 minutes.

For the filling: While the crust is in the oven, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl until just combined. Add in the egg and whisk until incorporated.

Pour the filling on top of the hot crust and sprinkle the 1 and 3/4 cups pecans evenly over the top. Bake until the top is brown and cracks start to form across the surface, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool for 1 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment paper “handles” and transfer to a cutting board; cut into desired sizes. Makes 10 squares.

Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated. 

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