12.22.2011

pecan almond bars.


around the holidays i always find my self craving three things - cookies, chocolate and nuts. nuts. usually i am not a big nut person - actually there were years where i had no interest in them altogether. but more and more they have called to me and crept back into my life. i have wanted them back into my life.

the cold of winter to me means more rich foods - stews, chickens, hearty soup's, shepards pie - and the meaty plump flesh of nuts in baking fits that criteria to a "t". don't get me wrong, i eat them in the summer as well - beautiful toasted then tossed on salad's - but i don't have such a want for them as i do in the colder comfort-food months. when i make my plan for the holiday eating season - yes i call it that - i plan out what nuts we want to use and go from there. i don't think of what i want to make and then get that, i think of what ingredients i want to eat and source out how to get them from a to b. i am always trying to find new ways to fit them in and this one hits all the marks. caramel. butter pastry crust. thick layer of nuts.


this was a recipe passed to me by my mother and i believe to her by her mother - the legendary betty whyte {no, not that one}. i was always excited to get to my grandma's house to see what baked good she had whipped up for us for the duration of our stay. she was a mater at all things baked and mostly things that would fit into the 1950's era of baked goods. for years i thought that she made up the name for nanaimo bars because she always made them for us and she lived in nanaimo and that is the only place we ever ate them - that i had ever seen them. it wasn't until years later when i saw some in the grocery store in vancouver that the idea was squashed. but i have gotten off topic.

nuts. pecan to be more specific. and sliced almonds. a winning combination - the perfect pair. i made these a couple of weeks ago for two functions and had people asking me for the recipe so i have decided to cave and share. one tip though - add them to your dessert buffet last because they will be the first thing gone and then no one will have any room for anything else - they are that good!


pecan almond bars
for the crust:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups all-purpose flour

filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of white sugar
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup pecan halves - toasted
1 cup sliced almonds - toasted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1) make your crust: pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. put butter and brown sugar into a mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. mix in salt. add flour, 1 cup at a time until fully incorporated. continue mixing dough until it begins to come together in large clumps.
2)press dough into a 9x13 glass cassarole dish {i run a strip of parchment under the crust to allow easy bar removal after baking - about 7 inches wide 16 inches long} making your layer about a 1/4 inch thick. pierce the dough all over with a fork and chill for 20 minutes. bake until golden brown 18 to 20 minutes {i do it for 20}. transfer to a wire rack to cool. reduce your oven to 325 degrees.
3) toast your nuts: place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and pop them in the oven while it reduces for about 6 to 8 minutes giving it a shake at the 6 minute mark. remove from heat and let cool slightly.
4) make filling: place butter, brown sugar, honey, white sugar and heavy cream in a saucepan over high heat. bring to a boil, stirring, until mixture coast the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. remove from heat and stir in salt, nuts, and vanilla. pour filling onto the cooled crust.
5)bake until filling bubbles, 15 to 20 minutes {i do 20}. carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. run a paring knife around the edges of the pan to help release the bar and using the parchment overhang lift bar out of pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely. using a sharp knife cut into 1 by 3 inch bars. bars can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week.

1 comment:

goosekeeper said...

These are delicious! I'm going to make some for sure! Thank you from Ubisoft ;-)