Ina Garten is one of my favorite TV Personalities - I just love her food, her style, and her on-camera personality. You know how you can kinda tell how you're going to get along with a person before you really get to know them? Well, I'm convinced she and I would get along wonderfully.
Anyway, I love how Ina encourages her viewers to master a really good recipe or technique, and then change it up a bit to make different variations. That's exactly what I did with her Pecan Squares - I used her fabulous recipe as a starting point, tweaked it here and there, and ended up with these delicious nibbles that I call Vanilla Nut Bars. I think Ina would approve :).
The changes were simple - I omitted the lemon and orange zest from the original recipe, I replaced half of the pecans with almonds, I added lots of vanilla extract, and I replaced the honey with Lyle's Golden Syrup**. I also cut the recipe in half so my family isn't tempted to eat an entire sheet pan full of these delicious treats. Double the recipe if you want to feed a crowd!
ButterYum's Vanilla Nut Bars
a variation of Ina Garten's Pecan Squares
Makes one 9x13 pan
- 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 pound (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (or honey)
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 pound chopped nuts (I used almonds and pecans)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Make the crust by combining the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Use the paddle or BeaterBlade attachment (LOVE my 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 9x13 metal cake pan or lined 9x13 quarter sheet pan (see notes below).
- Bake crust for 15 minutes. Cool. Make 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, vanilla, and chopped nuts.
- Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Cool until set. Cut and serve!
**Lyle's Golden Syrup is an all natural sugar cane syrup imported from England - it has an addictive caramel-like flavor and I absolutely love it. It can be used interchangeably in any recipe that calls for honey. I've been finding it more easily at grocery stores lately, so have a look around and pick some up.
Notes - if baking in a sheet pan, build up the edges a bit with foil to catch any possible spills. A double recipe will fit in one half sheet pan or two 9x13 cake pans.