Pecan Squares, also known as Pecan Bars, combine a buttery
crisp shortbread crust with a deliciously
sweet and gooey filling that is loaded with coarsely chopped
pecans. They make a nice alternative to a Pecan Pie.
Pecan Squares are similar to a Pecan Pie, only instead
of a pastry crust, it has a buttery crisp shortbread crust. For the Pecan Filling the
pecans are toasted first to enhance their flavor. I love how this recipe
uses Lyle's Golden Syrup in the filling, rather than the more commonly
used corn syrup. Lyle's Golden Syrup is a British sugarcane syrup that is
thick like molasses, amber colored, with a rich and delicate, almost caramel
flavor. Using this syrup, instead of corn syrup, keeps the Pecan Squares
sweet, but not cloyingly so. You can usually find this product in some
grocery stores or else in specialty stores or on the
net. However, if you
cannot find it, you can use an equal amount of either dark or light corn syrup.
While some nuts are often used in both sweet and savory
dishes, pecans definitely hit their stride when used in sweet dishes. Desserts ranging from cakes and pies to pralines and ice creams. Their
buttery, soft-textured, slightly bittersweet flavor
is the ideal partner for fruits, chocolates, caramel,
coffee, and even maple syrup. Recipes calling for pecans will often
say you can substitute walnuts for the pecans, and that is because these
two nuts are both part of the hickory family. In fact, they even look
similar although the pecan does have a smoother shell and its flavor is
milder, more buttery. The reddish-brown shell of the pecan is long,
oval-shaped, and smooth and inside it has two golden-brown crinkled lobes with ivory-colored meat. When
buying pecans, look for nuts with good color and shape and make sure there
is no mold. You want to buy at a store with a good turnover as pecans have
a high oil content so they will go rancid fairly quickly. Nuts can be
stored in a cool, dry place but I prefer putting in the freezer where they
will keep for up to a year.
Squares: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180
degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line the
bottom and sides of an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan with foil. Then butter
or spray with a non stick cooking spray.
Place the pecans
on a baking sheet and bake for about 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned and
fragrant. Let cool and then coarsely chop.
Place the butter in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the
paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), and beat until smooth. Add the brown
sugar and beat until combined. Add the flour and salt and beat until you have
coarse crumbs (not a solid ball of dough). Press the mixture onto
the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for about 13-15 minutes or until very lightly browned.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
In a large bowl, whisk or beat the eggs until foamy. Add the brown sugar, golden
(or corn) syrup, cream, flour, salt, and vanilla extract and whisk until
combined. Pour over the baked crust and then sprinkle with the chopped pecans.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until the
filling has set. Let cool in the pan and then cut into
squares (bars). Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can also
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