A while back my boss lent me his copy of a Cook's Illustrated Magazine. There was information about how to choose and roast a turkey. (It was November) I turned the page and found this recipe for a pecan bar- Nice and simple, no extra sweet custardy or syrupy filling. Just a press in pan crust and glazed pecan topping.
I didn't make the recipe exactly as it was written, here is my version:
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted- I used unsalted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar*
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter melted and still warm -salted this time
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups pecans- toasted
*I used agave nectar because I have it on hand, if you don't have agave, use 1/2 cup corn syrup and omit water. Note to self: try maple syrup here because maple&pecan is a good combo.
Toasting the pecans is essential for the nuttiest pecan flavor. Here is how to toast nuts. This can be done ahead of time,
Preheat oven to 350, Line 9x13 pan with foil so that the foil can be used to lift the whole batch of bars out of the pan. I used two layers- one placed lengthwise and the other layer placed crosswise.
To make crust: whisk dry ingredients together in bowl. pour in melted butter, mix until all flour is incorporated. Press into pan.
To make the topping:combine brown sugar, agave, water and salt in bowl, pour hot butter over ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in vanilla. Fold in pecans. Note: I had three cups of pecans-the recipe called for four. Fewer pecans makes for a more caramel-y topping.
Pour topping over crust. It will not spread evenly and remain clumpy. This is ok. It will even out during baking.
Bake for 23-25 minutes, until topping bubbles.I took mine out of the oven at about 21 minutes because the topping was bubbling, My topping remained rather goooy. Very good but goooy. Cool completely in the pan. Then use foil to lift bars out of pan. I cut mine into 32 pieces for small bites dessert bar servings, but the recipe recommends 24 servings