I was the envy of everyone in my college dorm … at least on the days when my uncle, a gourmet cook, would send me pecan pies. He’d make them in those tiny disposable aluminum pie pans, stack them up in a box, and send them off express mail. They were heaven! This recipe reminds me of them; it’s is about as close to a pecan pie as you can get without using a rolling pin. I look for this recipe as the holidays approach. I often make a pan of these, freeze them, and pull them out of the ”fridge when life gets hectic in December. I serve them as a cookie, with tea, or cut them into bigger pieces, warm them and serve them as dessert paired with vanilla or caramel ice cream. The combination always works.Almost-Pecan-Pie Bars(make in an 8X8 inch baking pan)Base114 cups of flour
1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)A pinch of salt12 cup of packed light brown sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract3 additional tablespoons of flourFilling2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted1 large egg
13 cup of dark corn syrup14 cup of granulated sugar1 teaspoon vanilla1 cup of pecans, coarsely choppedPreheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the center position. Line an 8X8 baking pan with Reynold’s Release foil or spray with Baker’s Joy and wipe to spread evenly all over the pan.Make the base: Place the 114 cups of flour, the salt, and the brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor and mix to combine. Cut the butter into 8 pieces and add it and the vanilla to the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough is crumbly; don’t let it form a ball. You can also make this with a mixer: Bring butter to room temperature, cream it with the brown sugar and vanilla until creamy. Use your hands or a fork to mix in the flour and salt until the dough is crumbly.Remove 12 cup of the dough to use as a topping. Set it aside. Press the rest of the dough into the bottom of the pan, smoothing and leveling it so it is firm, even and totally flat. Bake the base for about 18-20 minutes, until it is set and just starting to color. Remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
While the base is baking, add the three tablespoons flour to the dough you have set aside to make the topping. Use your hands or a fork to cut the flour into the dough until it forms crumbs. If it has gotten soft, stick in the freezer.Make the filling: Combine the melted butter, egg, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk or stir to mix thoroughly, then add the pecans and stir to distribute them evenly.Spoon the filling over the hot base, smoothing from edge to edge so that it is covered completely. Sprinkle the topping all over the filling, covering it completely. Gently press the topping into the filling.Bake in the 300 degree oven for about 35 minutes, until the topping is colored a light, golden brown. Don’t over bake these or they’ll get hard as rocks. If you wiggle the pan back and forth, the filling should feel thickened but not completely firm.Cool in the pan on a rack for about 15 minutes, then, while still in the pan, cut the pastry into bars. It is easier to cut while warm. Let it cool completely before you remove the bars from the pan.These will keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several days. You can also freeze them for a month or so. Defrost them at room temperature. After they are defrosted, you can restore them to a just-baked taste by heating them just slightly in an oven at low temperature.This recipe is a variation of one in Cookies By the Dozen by Delores KostelniVera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. If your group or organization would like to sample and review a baked good for inclusion in this column, contact Vera Dawson at email@example.com.