Pecan Pie Bars
Makes 24 bars
For the Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Pie Filling:
2 heaping cups of whole pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Dipping (optional):
8 ounces good quality dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with parchment paper or foil leaving some excess hanging over the ends.
To make the crust, cut the butter into a 1/2-inch dice. Then, in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process all the ingredients for the crust together (including the diced butter) until the mixture begins to form tiny lumps and appears downey, about 30-45 seconds. Tip this mixture into the prepared pan and using your hands or a big spatula, evenly press the shortbread crust into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden, about 18-20 minutes. While the shortbread crust is baking, prepare the filling.
To make the filling, roughly chop the pecans. It's ok to have some whole pecans and some pecan pieces. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, honey, cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and pecans. Pour the pecan filling into the hot shortbread crust and spread as evenly as possible. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling evenly all over, about 12-15 minutes.
Cool completely, lift out of the baking pan using the overhanging parchment or foil and cut into bars. At this point, you can just start eating the bars, they are very tasty plain.
However, since we wanted to add chocolate, we dipped the cut and cooled bars in melted chocolate.
To do this, first, prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. To melt the chocolate, put 6 ounces of the chocolate and the oil together in a glass container that is taller than it is deep (this will make it easier to dip the bars) and heat in the microwave in 30-second increments stirring after each round. It took us about 1 minute and 15 seconds. When the chocolate is just melted, add the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate and stir until completely smooth and glossy. Dip the bars into the chocolate allowing the excess to drip off. Place on the prepared baking sheet to cool and firm up.
These bars will keep, covered, for 5 days at room temperature.