Here we are, at the annual pinnacle of eating pleasure. Festive images of sweet and savory delights at every turn. Thoughts surface of treats-past as the traditional once-a-year favorites draw memories of comfort.
But it’s also when the schedule gets so packed full on every level that the thought of digging in and creating wonders of the season can set you over the edge. Yet, it must be done. How can a year go by without the Frosted Sugar Cookies, Dede’s Coffee Cake or Christmas Eve Lasagna?
Although you’ve likely got your own collection of December regulars you must satisfy yourself and others with, I will share as many of mine as I can before the big day closes in. Maybe you’re ready to let one of yours go, at least for this year, and are willing to make room for some novelty in the repertoire.
These Pecan Bars are my new one. Date Bars, you’re not forgotten, but these are irresistible with a crunchy, shortbread crust and buttery pecan topping. Not too time consuming either.
And for a whole variety of Christmas Cookie recipes, from Russian Tea Cakes and Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies to Orange Shortbread Cutouts and Black and Whites, check out the link below. I’ve had the pleasure of attending an annual cookie extravaganza where the reliable favorites and stylish newbies are baked and shared. There’s much to inspire bringing in the new.
Here’s to fitting it all in!
Pecan Pie Bars Dipped in Chocolate
For the Shortbread Crust
- 1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 -inch dice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed, light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Pie Filling
- 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
- 2 heaping cups of whole pecans, roughly chopped
For the Chocolate Dip (optional)
- 8 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped (try Trader Joes “Pound Plus” Dark Chocolate)
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with parchment paper (or foil) leaving some excess hanging over the ends. (This is important, otherwise the bars won’t come out of the pan)
- In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process all the ingredients for the crust together until the mixture begins to form tiny lumps, about 30-45 seconds.
- Pour 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.
- 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 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 pan using the overhanging parchment or foil and cut into bars.
- To dip in chocolate, prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Melt 6 ounces of the chocolate and the oil together in a glass container that is taller than it is deep and heat in the microwave in 30-second increments stirring after each round. When the chocolate is just melted, add the remaining 2 ounces 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.
Recipe adapted from Just a Taste