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Pecan-caramel bars

This is Week #47 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

Will the baking ever end? My coworkers and family members must wonder this constantly. This recipe, as part of my 2011 challenge, came to me by chance. The timing could not have been more perfect! I could eat a constant stream of pecans and caramel this time of year. Perhaps someone could constantly walk beside me, alternately offering me pecans and spoonfuls of caramel.

I realize Thanksgiving is tomorrow and most of you probably have had your menus planned for weeks, but these pecan-caramel bars would be a great last-minute dessert to bring to the table. They are sooooooo delicious. I brought the bulk of this batch to work and they were gone well before lunch-time. 

In a food processor, pulse together:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

Add 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes).

Process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle over top:

1/4 cup ice water

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs out onto a sheet of wax paper and knead just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to an 11x15-inch rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Trim the dough to a 9x13-inch rectangle and place it in the baking pan. Cut the remaining dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips and press them up the sides of the pan to form a rim all around. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the dough is just set. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the crust for about 12 minutes longer, until lightly golden and set. Let cool.

In a large saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until foamy and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add:

1/4 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

1 cup heavy cream

Cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer inserted in the caramel registers at 240 degrees F (soft ball stage), about 10 minutes longer (it took me about 20 minutes to reach 240 degrees).

Add 1 pound of pecan halves and cook for 2 minutes longer. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading it evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbling. Let cool completely. Slide the parchment paper onto a cutting board. Cut into bars and serve. The bars can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Tempted to squeeze these into your Thanksgiving menu?? :)

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Reader Comments (7)

this looks superb lovely bars and flavour I haven't had this combination

those bars look simply amazing!! ooey gooey and delicious! Hope you and your family enjoy a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

11.24.2011 | Unregistered CommenterChef Dennis

These look gooey and wonderful. Pinned -

Great blog. I will now be following you.

11.24.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeg @ Sweet Twist

Caramel and pecans??? Oh, yes, I'm all in favor of these delicious beautiful with that thick layer of caramel!

11.24.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Curry powder?! Nonetheless, this looks amazing and my mouth watered immediately then overflowed down to my feet. Now I need some new socks...

11.24.2011 | Unregistered Commenterchero

Oh my! Can I have a Thanksgiving just so I can have these yummy things? And can I totally steal that whole pecan and caramel walking-spoon thing cause I think you're on to something genius there :)

11.25.2011 | Unregistered CommenterParsley Sage

I have been making these squares for over 30 years, they are my favorite. I call them "Yumpity Pecan Squares". There is no need to press the dough up the side of the pan, just press it into the bottom. You also don't have to refrigerate it, or line it with weights. I just make the dough, spray the pan with Pam, press the dough into the pan, prick it then fire it into the oven....easy peasy...lemon squeezy!!!

11.16.2012 | Unregistered CommenterThis is me

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