Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Honey Pecan Squares

My neighbor gave me some pecans early this week. At first I planned to make a pecan pie but then decided to make a twist on the classic. This recipe was inspired by one in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. The original calls for eight sticks of butter! That seemed excessive even to me, so I paired it back significantly. There are three unusual ingredients—lemon and orange zest and honey. You can’t taste the flavor of the zest, but it gives a brightness to the bars. The honey is used in the caramel topping and definitely comes through in the taste. My family gave these squares rave reviews at our Thanksgiving gathering. Enjoy!

Honey Pecan Squares
2 1/4 cups butter, softened and divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 orange
2 Tbsp. cream
2 cups chopped pecans

1. Beat 1 1/4 cups butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly flour your hands, and spread batter in prepared pan, creating ridges around the perimeter (the batter didn't fill the whole pan).
2. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes; cool.
3. Meanwhile combine remaining 1 cup butter, honey, and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter melt, stirring often. Increase heat, and bring mixture to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cream and pecans. Pour pecan mixture over prepared crust.
4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely, and cut into squares.

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