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Pecan Squares Recipe & Video

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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.

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Pecan 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 the foil, 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.

Shortbread Crust: 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.

Pecan 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 be frozen.

Makes about 25 Pecan Squares (Bars).

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Pecan Squares Recipe:

1 cup (100 grams) pecans

Shortbread Crust:

5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar

1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

Pecan Filling:

2 large eggs (100 grams), at room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup (120 ml/180 grams) Lyle's Golden Syrup (can also use dark or light corn syrup)

1 tablespoon cream (can use half-and-half, or a light or heavy cream)

1 tablespoon (10 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt

1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract (or 1 tablespoon rum or bourbon)

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