Leslie Barrett has a Costco-sized bag of pecans in her freezer, but when she went to make pecan bars she realized the recipe was missing.
She wrote to us for help.
“All I can tell you is that they were made in a jellyroll pan with a pie crustlike bottom, and a traditional chewy pecan filling. Simple and easy, and taste just like pecan pie in a bar form,” she said in her request.
From The Culinary Institute of America’s “Baking and Pastry, Mastering the Art and Craft” cookbook
For the Cookie Dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 whole egg
3 1/4 cups cup cake flour, sifted
For the Pecan Filling:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups pecans, chopped
To make the cookie dough, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed using a paddle attachment on the mixer. If a paddle attachment is unavailable, mix by hand. Scrape the sides of the bowl periodically until the mixture is smooth and light in color. Add the egg, scrape the bowl again, and blend until smooth. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed until just blended.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and flatten into a disc (the dough now can be wrapped and frozen for later use). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling the dough.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line bottom of baking pan with parchment. Once the dough is chilled, begin the rolling process. Lightly dust the work surface with flour to ensure that minimal flour will be incorporated into the dough; this helps to preserve its delicate texture and crumb.
(If the dough is too firm to roll, massage it or work it with a rolling pin until it is a malleable consistency, as previously described.)
Lightly dust the dough to help prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin. Roll the dough from the center out. Lift and turn the dough as you roll to help keep the dough even and prevent it from sticking to the work surface.
Work quickly but carefully; he dough should not become too soft. If necessary, refrigerate intermittently. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness and a 17-by-12-inch rectangle. To transfer the rolled dough to the baking pan, carefully roll it around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the pan. Gently press the dough into the pan, lining the bottom and sides and being careful not to tear or stretch the dough. Prick the bottom with the prongs of a fork to prevent it from bubbling during baking. Trim along the edges with a paring knife to ensure a perfect fit. (Remaining dough can be wrapped and frozen for later use.)
Bake at 350 degrees until light in color, about 10 to 12 minutes.
To make the pecan filling, begin by placing the heavy cream, honey, butter and both sugars into a heavy-bottom saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil while stirring and cook until it reaches 240 degrees measured on a candy thermometer. Add the pecans and stir until fully incorporated. Immediately pour into the pre-baked crust and spread into an even layer.
Bake at 350 degrees until the filling bubbles or foams evenly across the surface and the crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool thoroughly before cutting.
To remove from pan, use a knife to ease the sheet from the sides of the pan and invert the slab onto the back of a sheet pan. Transfer to a cutting board by flipping it over so it is right side up. Trim off the edges and cut into 1-inch diamonds.
The bars store well at room temperature but can also be refrigerated or frozen as long as wrapped airtight.
Yield: 4 dozen 2-inch, or 8 dozen 1-inch, depending on the size and shape.
Nutrition information per 1-inch cookie: 110 calories, 8 grams fat (65 percent fat calories), 1 gram protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, no sodium.