Most Requested Cookie: Pecan Bars

In addition to our convenient location close to downtown Asheville and our scrumptious breakfasts, our guests can indulge their sweet tooth each afternoon with a homemade treat from our cookie tray.  These pecan bars are one of our most requested recipes so we decided to share the love and recipe along with our tips and tricks so you can recreate this deliciousness at home.  Ingredients and recipe follows after our tips.

Tip 1:  toast all the whole pecans (2&1/4 cups) on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.

Tip 2:  we use a foil sling on bar cookies for easy removal and cutting.  Cut 2 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil about 10″ wide.  Fold back about 1 inch on each long side so your foil is approximately 8″ by 18″.  Overlap the pieces perpendicular to each other so they fit in the bottom of the greased pan.  When baked and cooled, loosen the corners with the knife and lift the whole cookie out to a cutting board; pull the foil out from beneath before cutting into 16 squares.  Cut 8 of the squares diagonally into triangles so you have pretty half cookies too.  They are rich.

foil sling

Tip 3:  use the back of a measuring cup to pat the crust evenly into the prepared baking pan.

patted crustWild Turkey American Honey bottle

Tip 3:  although any bourbon will do, we use only Wild Turkey American Honey in this recipe (you can see our bottle is almost empty because we make  A LOT of pecan bars.)  It’s our secret ingredient!

Tip 4:  do not use a nut chopper for the pecans in the filling.  Instead take 2 pecans together and break them with your fingers into small irregular shaped pieces.  Pick up 2 more whole pecans and so on and so forth. It takes a little more time but the texture is worth the effort.  You have time while the crust is baking.

PECAN BARS (slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 c all purpose flour
1/3 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c toasted pecans, chopped course
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Pecan Filling
4 T unsalted butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/3 c light corn syrup
1 T bourbon
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 c toasted pecans, chopped course

For the crust:  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Fold two pieces of heavy duty foil lengthwise to measure 8″ wide.  Fit 1 sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan (overhang will help removal of baked bars.)  Fit second sheet in pan in the same manner, perpendicular to first sheet.  Spray again with nonstick cooking spray.

Place flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt and baking powder in food processor fitted with knife blade.  Process mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal, about five 1-second pulses.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles sand, about eight 1-second pulses.  Pat mixture evenly into prepared pan and bake until crust is light brown, about 18 minutes.

While crust bakes, make filling by melting butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla, salt and egg; whisk until combined.  Add chopped pecans and stir.

Pour filling on top of hot crust and spread evenly.  Bake until top is brown and cracks start to form across surface, 22 minutes.  Let bars cool completely before removing from pan using foil handles to transfer to cutting board.

We think these pecan bars are like eating pecan pie without needing a knife and fork.  The buttery shortbread crust is the perfect base for the ooey-gooey pecan topping.  These cookies can keep up to 5 days after baking and they freeze well but they never last that long here.

We hope this inspires you to bake….or better yet, book your next getaway to Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast and let us do the baking for you!