Pecan bar thingies

OK, this recipe is the most decadent, delicious and delightful dessert recipe you’re likely to find here on DRB. The Queen (it’s all her fault) contributed this recipe from a friend who brought these little devils to a church potluck. You may know those church potluck cooks—they feel no guilt making their most delectable, diet-wrecking, downright tasty dishes to church potlucks when they’d never make them for their foodie friends. God love ’em.

Anyhow, let’s say you are looking for a pretty-easy dessert you can serve to anyone (who’s not diabetic) and get a “Wow, this is fantastic!” reaction. OK, get ready….

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Pecan bar thingies

Decadent pecan bars for a potluck
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: bars, pecans, pecans dessert, snacks
Servings: 24 snackers
Author: dad

Equipment

  • 9×13 baking dish
  • mixing bowl
  • spatula

Ingredients

  • 1 package Grocery store sugar cookie mix The box should say you can make three dozen.
  • 1/4 cup oil I haven't found a recipe yet where olive oil doesn't work fine, but the original recipe calls for vegetable oil.
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed Light or dark will do. Darker brings more carmelly flavor.
  • 1 cup corn syrup Wow, this is a throwback for DRB. Anyone know of a substitute for this. The recipe calls for dark corn syrup, but light is OK.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter If you only have salted butter, reduce salt to 1/8 tsp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup pecans, chopped smallish Don't pulverize them, just chop to bits.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Combine cookie mix, oil and water in a large bowl. Mix with fork or spatula until evenly blended. OK, oil and water don't mix, but they tell me the egg in the cookie mix will take care of that.
  • Press the mix into an ungreased 9"x13" glass baking dish, or metal if that's what you use. Metal usually takes a bit longer to bake. Take your time and to press the mixture evenly across the bottom of the dish or pan. This makes a big difference in the final product. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and reduce oven temp to 350°.
  • Place butter in a two-cup measuring cup and melt in the microwave. This usually takes me two rounds at 30 seconds each on high. Let the butter cool for 10 minutes. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Add vanilla and salt and mix well.
  • In mixing bowl, wiped out clean, combine brown sugar, corn syrup until well blended. Chop and stir pecan into the batter. Add the butter-eggs to the sugar-corn syrup and blend thoroughly. That's you're batter/filling/topping.
  • Pour batter over baked crust. Spread carefully to make an even layer without disturbing the crust too much. An offset spatula helps. I usually shake the pan very gently to help even out the liquidy batter. Bake for 30 minutes. You're looking a center that is "set"—it doesn't look liquidy any more. Don't get too worried about this. As long as you don't burn your thingies, they'll be fine.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on the counter for an hour. after about 15 minutes, run a sharp knife around the pan to help things along. You want to eat these at room temperature. Don't rush! You'll be happy you waited. When completely cool, cut into bars—I'm thinking 24 or maybe even 36, depending on just how decadent you want each serving to be.
  • You have made a fantastic dessert. Your friends and even the church ladies are impressed! Work it.

Notes

We made these for a Lenten dinner at our church and were a big hit. This was in the South, these will be enjoyed by anyone who can indulge the occasional sweet thing. I understand these may be a bit daunting for newer cooks, but give it a try because you’ll get experience with a several basic baking processes. I’m working on a way to lower the sugar and keep the flavor and texture.
  • 1 package grocery-store sugar cookie mix – should make 3 dozen
  • 1/4 cup oil – I haven’t found any recipe where EVOO doesn’t work fine, but the recipe calls for vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon tap water
  • 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup corn syrup – dark is recommended, but light is OK
  • 1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar – dark or light is OK
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter – salted OK
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt – regular, not Kosher
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped pecans – don’t pulverize them into powder, but should be pretty well chopped

How-To

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Make crust
    1. Combine cookie mix, oil and water in large bowl. OK, oil and water don’t mix (!) but the egg in the mix will emulsify
    2. Stir well with a fork (this really works best) until texture is very uniform
    3. Press the mixture into an UNGREASED 9×13 Pyrex® glass pan (or metal if you don’t have one). Take your time to try and press the crust to an even thickness all over…makes a difference at the finished-product level.
    4. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes (more or less, depending on your oven)
    5. Remove from oven and REDUCE OVEN TEMP TO 350°. (It’s so easy to forget steps like this.)
  3. Make top layer
    1. Melt the butter in a 2-cup measuring container in the microwave (or in a minimum two cup sauce pan on the stove) and let cool for about 5 minutes.
    2. Add the eggs to the butter and beat slightly with a fork
    3. Using the same bowl as above, wiped out pretty clean, combine the brown sugar and corn syrup with a fork until thoroughly blended.
    4. Add the vanilla and salt to the egg-butter liquid and combine thoroughly with the sugar-corn syrup in bowl.
    5. Chop and stir in the pecans until distributed evenly.
  4. Pour mixture over baked crust. The sugary-syrupy mixture will be liquidy enough to pour over the crust. Do it. Spread carefully to a uniform thickness. (Being liquid, this is easy! Gently shake the pan to help this along.)
  5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes (more or less depending on your oven). You can start checking at 25 minutes. What you’re looking for is that the center is “set”…it doesn’t look liquidy any more. Don’t worry too much about this. As long as the thing doesn’t get burned, it will be good.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool. After a few minutes, loosen the mixture from the edge of the pan by working a sharp knife all the way around the pan.
  7. When completely cool, cut into bars. Should make one or two dozen or more depending on how many you need or the sweetness tolerance of your audience.
  8. Enjoy! You are looking very impressive to your friends!

These bars are great eaten by hand (slightly gooey) or served up fancy on a plate with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. They keep very well if you keep the air away. Should be eaten at room temp.

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