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!
Items used to make this recipe:
ButterYum's Vanilla Nut Bars
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 or corn syrup.
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.
adapted from Ina Garten's Pecan Squares