Texas pecan pie bars (or my-comedy-of-errors-bars)
Texas Pecan Pie Bars
Our church was hosting a group of Habitat for Humanity volunteers for dinner, and I signed up to drop off a dessert. Easy, right? It could have been. It would have been if I’d gone with my first instinct and made sugar cookie bars or snickerdoodle bars. But then I saw this Texas Pecan Pie Bar recipe in The Pastry Queen cookbook and figured I’d give it a try. After all, I thought, it feeds a crowd and I bet it’ll be good.
Well, it got rave reviews and it was really good. Delicious, in fact. And it does feed a bunch of people. But, holy cow. 7 cups of brown sugar?? I had to stop in the middle of baking these bad boys and drag the kids to the store with me just to buy more brown sugar! Yeah, yeah, I should have made sure I had everything first, but one thing you might not know about me is that I’m not one of those organized kitchen people. I’m kind of like my mom and have gotten used to sending Jim to the store willy-nilly whenever I run out of something. (Take no offense, Mom, but Charlie really does go to the store more often than any other person on the planet.)
Anyway. Crazy idea, that’s what this was.
After I finally got everything ready, I decided to use my rimmed cookie sheet instead of a deeper jelly roll pan, because my jelly roll pan is an air bake and I hate those and refuse to use it for anything more than a tray. (Look! I’ve resorted to using run-on sentences!!) So there I was, trying very unsuccessfully to squeeze gobs of pecan filling onto this baking sheet and having no luck whatsoever. You won’t know what a shame that was until you make these, but I had to throw some of this yummy stuff away.
The last glitch in my plan was the cutting. I was reading a side-note of this recipe about how nice it is to cut your bars into diamonds instead of plain old squares. Hmph. Yeah, right. I tell the folks in my book club all the time that I’m “cutting challenged” because none of my treats ever come out in equal pieces. (If you possess that gift, I would love to know your secret.) But there I was, planning to feed hard-working volunteers I don’t even know and I picked that moment to try cutting diamond shapes. What was I thinking?! They were the most pitiful looking diamond shapes you’ll ever see.
In spite of my comedy of errors, I’m giving you this recipe because it really is delicious and because I’m sure you’ll learn from my mistakes. 1.) Check your pantry for brown sugar and lots of it. 2.) Use a deep jelly roll pan. 3.) Cut these darn bars into good old-fashioned squares. You’ll be glad you did.
Recipe: Texas Pecan Pie Bars
(from The Pastry Queen cookbook)
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter (3 sticks)
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
8 large eggs
6 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 bourbon, optional
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 c. sweetened, flaked coconut
2 c. pecan halves
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12×17″ baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Beat butter in a large bowl on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat one minute, until fluffy. Add flour and salt; beat on low speed until combined but still crumbly. Press the mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, until it has turned a deep golden brown. Leave oven temperature at 350, but remove baking pan from oven.
To make the filling: Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Stir in bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour, and salt. Add coconut and pecans. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading evenly. Bake until set, about 25 minutes. Cool thoroughly on wire rack.