Makes: 18 bars
Talk about buttery, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth caramel madness. These bars have no leavening, so they are as dense as can be. Don't be tempted to cut them until they've had a chance to set up in the refrigerator.
What you'll need:
9-inch square baking pan
Baking sheet for toasting pecans
Sharp, heavy knife for chopping pecans hand-held electric mixer wire rack
Baking time: 45 minutes
For Preparing the Pan
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or solid vegetable shortening, softened
For the Caramel Bars
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F with a rack in the center of the oven. Use the butter or vegetable shortening to coat the inside of the baking pan. Set aside.
2. Place the butter and dark brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. with the mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first is completely incorporated before adding the second. Move the beaters around the bowl and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula several times while mixing. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the vanilla and flour, and mix just until there are no traces of flour remaining. Add the nuts and mix them in.
3. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the sides of the batter have risen up slightly more than the center and the top is shiny and dry. The interior of the batter will still be quite soft-almost liquid. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a rack to cool for 30 minutes, then place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until it is very cold. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars into a 3 by 3-inch grid, and then cut each bar in half to make 18 bars.
4. The bars can be stored in a covered tin at room temperature for up to 1 week. To freeze, allow them to cool completely after baking, then spread them on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours. When the bars are thoroughly frozen, stack them in a freezer-strength recloseable gallon-size plastic bag for up to 3 months. Use a waterproof marker to note the contents of the bag and the date. Defrost them in the bag at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
It's important to resist cutting into these until they have had a chance to cool completely. If you're in a big hurry, you can stick the pan in the freezer after it's cooled for 15 minutes at room temperature. It will take about 40 minutes in the freezer or 3 hours at room temperature to cool the inside enough so the bars can be cut.
Basic Baking: Everything You Need
to Know to Get You Started Plus 101
Luscious Desserts That You Can Make
By Lora Brody
Morrow Cookbooks/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
William Morrow; November 2000
Hardcover $25.00, 325 pages
Information provided by the publisher.
This page created April 2001
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