Monday, November 24, 2014

Raising the Bar

Pecan pie is the favorite of my father-in-law and so I make a pie every Thanksgiving.  I like it well enough, though it is a distant second behind pumpkin or even Lime Jello Salad (but who are these people who make strawberry pie second only behind apple on Thanksgiving??)  And so I usually have most of a whole pie leftover.

This year I want to try something new:  pecan pie bars, which I've seen in several places.  I've also seen chocolate pecan pie increase in popularity over the years.  And so this year, I'm going to combine them--chocolate pecan pie bars!  The chocolate apparently cuts the sweetness of the corn syrup, which is good.

Though, I think it will still mainly be my FIL who eats them.

(Except for the half of the batch that I'm giving to Mama Teacher for her FIL, also the only pecan-pie eater in her family.)



My Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Crust
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature*
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional, or the flavor of your choice; eggnog flavor makes a delicious holiday shortbread
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • *Since butter is such a critical element in these cookies, we recommend you use a top-quality butter. Our test-kitchen choice is Cabot.
  • 1) Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease 9 x 13" pan If you worry about the shortbread possibly sticking in your particular pan, line it with parchment, and grease the parchment.
    2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating till it comes together. If it absolutely won't come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough.
    3) Press dough into prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a mini rolling pin.
    4) Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes. Prick the dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry.
    5) Bake the shortbread until it's a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.
  • 6)  Allow shortbread to cool while you make the pecan filling. 
Filling

  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves (170 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (56 grams)
  • ¾ cup dark corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (5 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Preheat oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast nuts, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.
  2. Make the filling: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth; cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together cooled chocolate-butter mixture, corn syrup, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, bourbon and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared shortbread crust. Arrange pecans over filling. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the filling is just set when the pan is jiggled, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
  4. A combo from King Arthur Flour and the NYTimes


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