Let me just say it: Pecans are my favorite nut.
They are so sweet and delicious, I cannot resist them. So when I started thinking about what type of baked items I wanted to start trying for the holiday season, pecans immediately came to mind.
I’m a sucker for pecan pie, even the lousy ones you buy frozen that are made with who knows what. I love it when pecan pie is so sweet it makes your teeth hurt.
But I’m not ready to commit to making a pecan pie. That’s a sacred ritual. Instead, I wanted the flavor of pecan pie, but without the trouble of making the crust. I’ll do that another time. So that’s why I decided to make pecan squares.
Pecan squares are easy to make and certainly nutritious. Pecans, however, are pretty expensive — about $8 to $10/lb depending where you buy them — so pecan squares are a good choice for budget cooking because you only use about a cup of them altogether.
You get all the delicious pecan flavor for only a fraction of the pecan cost. Good deal!
Fortunately, my wife works in an office where her co-workers love to eat baked goods. So after sampling only one (or two) of these pecan squares, I packed them up and sent them off, freeing me from the temptation of eating myself into a sugar coma.
Like I said, I’m a sucker for pecans.
For the Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 TBS unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped very fine
For the Filling
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 TBS all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, rough chop
1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cream butter and brown sugar in Kitchen Aid mixer (or use hand mixer), then add eggs one at a time until absorbed. Beat in the vanilla extract, then slowly add the flour and mix on low until mixture resembles coarse meal. Don’t overmix because you don’t want gluten strands to start forming, like if you were making bread dough.
2. Spray an 8″x8″ baking dish with pan spray, then pour the mixture into the bottom and press down firmly. Bake about 10 minutes or until crust starts to brown. Remove from oven and cool. This can be done up to a day ahead of time. Cover with plastic wrap to store until ready to use.
3. Place eggs in mixing bowl and whisk until foamy, about 3 minutes. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, flour, salt and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Pour pecan filling over crust and sprinkle with the pecans. Don’t worry if it looks like they are sinking into the mixture, it will turn out fine. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until firm and browned. Let cool completely in pan before cutting, or you will get pecan mush. Cut into squares and serve.
What kind of baked goods are you thinking about as we head toward the holidays? Why not share your ideas in the comments section below? And thanks for looking at my blog!