Pecan Squares - another fabulous recipe from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa.
I started making this recipe without taking the time to read any of the online reviews - that was a mistake. I nearly had a disaster on my hands, but thankfully I was able to correct the problem before I made a terrible mess...
The recipe starts innocently enough - make the shortbread crust. This was a breeze, especially using my favorite BeaterBlade attachment.
Pressing the shortbread crust into the 12x18x1-inch sheet pan was a little time consuming and messy because the dough was so soft and wet that I had to continually dip my hands in flour between each and every press.
This is the point in the process when I started to question whether or not all that pecan filling was going to fit in the pan without overflowing...
After the crust emerged from it's prebake session, I noticed it had puffed up quite a bit. In other words, now there was even less room for the filling! This is when I KNEW there was no way the crust was going to be able to contain 1 pound of butter, 1 cup of honey, 3 cups of brown sugar, and 2 pounds of chopped pecans... ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!
So I put the recipe on hold while I went online to read the reviews. Many people did indeed end up with a horrible mess in their ovens, but some thought ahead a lined their sheet pans with foil, building up the sides of their pans - an excellent idea, but it was too late for me to line my pan - the crust was already prebaked.
So I came up with Plan B.
I topped my prebaked crust with a spare sheet pan, flipped everything upside down, and removed the original sheet pan. The crust released perfectly without breaking - so far, so good.
Then I added several strips of foil...
...placed the original sheet pan back in place...
...and flipped it all right side up again.
Voila - a foil-lined sheet pan, sides built up, topped with the prebaked crust.
After crimping the corners closed, I felt much better about pouring all that ooey-gooey filling onto the crust and sending it off to bubble in my oven for 25 minutes. I'll use two 9x13-inch cake pans in the future.
The filling was extremely easy to make. Just bring the butter, sugar, honey, and zests to a full boil for 3 minutes...
...stir in the heavy cream and pecans...
...and pour the mixture on top of the crust and bake.
Cool, chill, cut, and serve - delicious!
recipe adapted from Ina Garten, serves 54 2x2-inch squares (recipe can also be baked in two 9x13 cake pans)
- 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, softened (yes pounds, not sticks)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 extra large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 pound unsalted butter
- 1 cup honey (or Lyle's Golden Syrup)
- 3 cups light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 pounds pecans, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Make the crust by combining the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Use the paddle attachment or BeaterBlade, mix for 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
- Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter/sugar mixture on low speed just until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Using well floured hands, press dough into ungreased half sheet pan (line 1-inch tall pan with foil or better yet, use two 9x13x2-inch tall pans).
- Bake crust for 15 minutes and cool while preparing the filling.
- Make the filling by combining the butter, honey, and brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils; continue to boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream and chopped pecans.
- Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Cool until set; wrap well with plastic and refrigerate.
- Cut and serve.
My Notes - I may decrease the shortbread crust by half next time. These are yummy drizzled with chocolate.
You might also be interested in my Vanilla Nut Bars which makes one 9x13-inch pan.