Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pecan Pie Bars

Do you ever start a recipe, do a quick read through of the ingredients, know that you have everything and jump right in? I keep almost all common baking supplies on hand in sufficient quantities that I can bake most basic things on a moments notice. Therefore, when I read through the recipe for the Texas pecan pie bars in Rebecca Rather's The Pastry Queen I was quite confident that I had everything... and I was right. What I failed to notice however, were the quantities required for this particular recipe. The crust wasn't that bad:


1 1/2 (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Okay, 3 sticks of butter, and 4 cups of flour is a bit much, but not out of the question. I made the crust, pressed it down into the pan, and threw it into the oven. Then I started the filling.


8 large eggs
6 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups pecan halves

6 more cups of light brown sugar?!? I keep a lot of supplies on hand, but holy crap. Even I didn't have 6 cups (7 if you count the other cup in the crust) of light brown sugar on hand. Luckily, I did have 3.5 cups of light brown sugar for the filling, and I had just enough dark brown sugar to complete the recipe. I'm sure the substitution of dark brown sugar made a difference in the taste, but it wouldn't actually change that much in the recipe. (And of course the fact that I just happened to have all of that brown sugar on hand probably says something about my baking problem... and of course that we stopped by the store on the way home from work and I made sure to re-stock... but this is about the bars... not about my baking habit.)

When the crust came out of the oven I poured the filling on top and discovered that the pan (a 12 x 17 inch jelly roll pan) was filled to the brim. One good jostle of the very hot pan would cause instant, sticky mess. Luckily, I managed to avoid that. It didn't even spill over that much in the oven which was great. Of course the very full, very large pan was also pretty heavy when I did pull it out of the oven and I managed to burn myself -- complete with a blister -- but that's pretty run of the mill around here.

And of course, I discovered when I went to cut the squares that I had forgotten the rather important step of greasing the pan. Not the step you want to forget for sticky bar cookies. The bars did come out of the pan with a little prying, a very sharp knife and some patience, but next time I will definitely grease the pan.

The bars were incredibly sweet, but quite yummy. The bourbon was actually optional, but I thought it added a very nice flavor, and would never dream of leaving something fun like bourbon out of a recipe that called for it.

The directions that go with the ingredients above:

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 12 by 17 inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat about 1 minute, until fluffy. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until evenly incorporated but still crumbly. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has darkened to a deep golden brown. Leave the oven at 350.

To make the filling: Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in the bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour, and salt, then the coconuts and pecans. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading evenly. Bake until set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly, at least 30 minutes, before cutting into 3-inch squares.

As I'm sure my friends from Texas would remind me -- everything is bigger in Texas...


Brenda Myers said...

So sorry to read that you burned yourself. That's something I would do. The bars looked great, and I'm sure UPS delivers. We bought a banna bread leaf at the store Saturday, took one bite and both said "It's not like Melissa's". Needless to say you have totally spoiled us!!! Here's hoping you have a great day! HUGS - Brenda (Chris' Mom)

Brenda Myers said...

Melissa - you're killing me. I just looked over other goodies you've made since we were there 2 weeks ago. Everything looks so good and my lips are too far away for a taste. You've just got to get Chris to make a UPS run -- and often!!!

Ben said...

not gonna get myself in trouble with your comment about how everything is bigger in Texas...not gonna get myself in trouble with your comment about how everything is bigger in Texas... not gonna get myself in trouble with your comment about how everything is bigger in Texas...

so I'll leave at that the pecan cakes were OUTSTANDING!

biscuitpusher said...

hahahaha! you meant the pecans... right...?