You know, most people would look at a recipe that required more than a box of brown sugar, more than a teddy bear full of honey, two pounds of pecans and nine sticks of butter and say, oh hell no. Ina Garten is clearly trying to kill us. And while I thought that to myself many times, I really just saw this as a challenge. Could this be The Most Fattening Thing I Have Ever Made? I mean, this makes chocolate caramel cheesecake look like a Weight Watchers 2-point popsicle. I must make them.
Because if we’re all going to go sooner or later, I believe everyone should be allotted a few of these first, not that we ever doubted that pecan pie baked slathered over a thick shortbread base would be anything less than worth its weight in coronaries. And while I know our arteries are clogging and our scales groaning at the thought of such an avalanche of ingredients better taken in moderation, keep in mind that this makes a half-sheet pan full of bars. That’s a freaking lot of cookie.
Alas, a recipe so costly in building blocks is begging for a critique and I do have a couple grievances, though the first is entirely of my own stupidity. Whatever you do, make sure your pan is at least the correct size as I’m realizing now that my baking sheet is perhaps a little short of 1-inch suggest height, as evidenced by the piles of burnt caramel all over the bottom of our oven and our ensuing smoke inhalation, but not the fun kind. It’s been a little over twelve hours since this mess crusted itself to the oven floor, and I’m beginning to suspect that our oven may not be a self-cleaning model after all — perhaps the absence of a self-cleaning settings should have given that away — though I really wish I would get on that already. It also pretty much destroyed our pizza stone, but as I’ve been hankering for a new one for a while, this is the perfect excuse.
My only actual recipe-related grievance is that this is not the best shortbread I’ve ever had. I know that’s not the point, but I’d like both more flavor to it, and more structure. I think the baking powder makes it a little soft for the crushing weight of two pounds of caramel-swaddled pecans; it holds up, but not as well as it should so if you have a shortbread base that never fails your lemon bars or other cookies and can scale it up to this girth, I say go for it.
I might also line the pan with parchment paper next time. The recipe warns you not to pour the pecan mixture into the edges around the shortbread, but since this less-perfect cook inevitably will, it’s nice to have a backup plan to get it cleanly out of the pan. They come out either way, but a little silicon lining would make it all that much easier. And with an oven as charred and unlovable as ours awaiting us, we’ll take all the ease we can get.
Adapted from Ina Garten
1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup good honey
3 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the crust: Beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
For the topping: Combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.
120 comments on pecan squares
I had my heart-stopper fill last night with a bacon-butternut squash pasta dish followed by vanilla custard, or I’d be all over these tonight.
Oh my god. I don’t even know what to say after that. Other than that is an insane amount of butter.
Heheh. Seriously, this is enough for three tins, three holiday parties. I’ll be spreading them out, and hoping they freeze well. (Also, next time I’ll probably make a half-recipe in a 9×13, high-walled pan.)
Have you tried the half recipe in the high walled pan since then?If so how did it turn out?
No, but I will soon!
Wow. Just…wow. I wonder if I could halve (or quarter) this recipe to use up some pecans.
That Ina…she’s out for blood.
I have been charged with bringing goodies to a scoring session of high school Sophomore English papers; persuasive papers. If the horrible writing and spelling won’t kill us, I am certain these will! Thanks Deb!!! Once again, you have saved my arse!
That butter picture made me laugh out loud. Hahah.
That’s easily January thru October’s butter usage doubled in one recipe!!! But, you know you write about it so as to get a lot of laughs and laughing is so healthy, maybe we could call them Healthy Laugh Cookie Bars!!!
Deb, you are over the top.
Portion control, portion control, portion control…
Right now, I’ve got 108 2″x1″ bars, but my favorite size for rich things is 1″x1″. These might be a little too crumbly and gooey for little cubes, but I just wanted to give you guys an idea of how MANY this makes.
(It probably goes without saying at this point, but Ina cut them about three times as large and dipped them in chocolate. But you already knew that she’d do that sort of thing.)
The original recipe includes chocolate??? How? Where? When? The entire cookie or just half?
Not the original recipe, she just did that on her show. She melted a bag of chocolate chips and dipped half of the bar in it. She didn’t temper the chocolate so she said it stays a little soft, but I think I’d try to temper it if I did because I hate “finger” food that leaves you grimy.
Picture here: http://images.scrippsweb.com/FOOD/2006/10/09/ig0708_pecan2_e.jpg
[As you may guess, Alex is begging me to dip them. I seriously think that boy’s food motto is “But I don’t understand why if you could dip something in chocolate, the reason you wouldn’t.” End-capped with a sniffle and pout.]
Oh my! 9 sticks of butter! And they said I was insane when I bought two “packages” of butter at BJ’s! (which translates into each package being 4 lbs. of butter, 4 boxes each bearing 4 sticks of butter…. so total, I bought 32 sticks of butter unless my math is wrong. Mm. Now I can use them all in one shot!)
Oh my god. My officemate and I just had a good laugh about this. Holy cow. Okay, I had to do it. According to fitday.com, the entire pan comes to a total of 20,299 calories (which, with 108 of ’em is not entirely so bad…). I think I’m of your mindset. I totally want to try this recipe now! I mean, could it have more yummy incredibly good things in it? Wow…
If you have left overs, I’ll be more than happy to take them off of your hands. Seriously.
Something else you can do to protect your oven is to line the bottom rack with tinfoil when you have an item that might cause over flow. I put a seperate sheet that I can whisk off of the second rack if the over flow starts to burn. I learned this the hard when when making a roast in a bag and the bag split with lovely juices being devoured by the oven heating element. I also put a baking sheet under pans with liquids now for just such a disastorous occassion.
i just read thru the comments, but i was gonna say mention that those bars originally had a nice chocolate coat. i specifically remember watching that episode and thinking to myself …..omg…scared, yet strangely delighted. hahahaha
I made these twice and I agree on the shortbread. It tasted sort of ‘flat/dull’ to me.
In her cookbook, I believe she does say something about putting a sheet of foil on a lower rack to catch the “drippings”. I neglected to do that the first time and had the same black smoke filled kitchen you described. Although, our self-cleaning oven pretty much took care of most of the black tar, my husband was nice enough to scrub off the rest. The whole time I was making the topping I kept thinking “Wow, these are going to smell great in the oven!”. Uh…yeah.
When I brought them to work though (as you mentioned before…the true test), they were consumed instantly. This year for Hannukah, I plan to make a dessert plate for neighbors, my kid’s teachers and the local bartender. The plate will include BF’s Pecan Bars, the Home-Made Oreos, BF’s Outrageous Brownies, BF’s linzer cookie sandwiches with raspberry filling, chocolate ruggelah and Chocolate Chip cookies (from the recipe that came with my Kitchen Aid mixer…they are outstanding!).
By the way, my husband has a really bad habit of putting my butter that I’ve purposefully left out back in the fridge. I’ll put it out after dinner so it can adjust to room temperature for the next day and he’ll see it in the kitchen before he goes to bed and put it back in the fridge thinking that I mistakenly left it out. Everytime.
Put it on a saucer or plate, or even unwrap & cover the plate with foil, plastic, or such. It looks less like a mistake that way. (I also have an overly “helpful”husband who can’t seem to ask questions.) 😆
Ina’s not a big lady by accident, she has earned her pudge. Hopefully heart disease doesn’t run in her family. Or yours! :)
yum. Can i have one? Are you going to the holiday party tonight at C & R’s? BRING some with you!
Jay-sus! Those do look tasty, though, with all their heart-stopping goodness. :-)
For the cooking novices, Deb, how does one temper chocolate?????
Rachael – 187 calories! I’m totally cutting them in half now. Finger food should be but one bite, anyhow.
Jenifer – The stupidest thing is, I saw it coming. But this WAS my biggest pan. And, it was on the bottom rack. And it was 11 p.m. and I was tired. So, I just let it happen and freaked out the whole time. Much more fun that way, right?
Michelle – My husband does that butter thing too! And, I’m so glad you agree on the shortbread. Shortbread is one of the best, best cookies on earth and I kind wished I’d used salted butter and more sugar. It’s like a thick pie crust — too flavorless, and if we’re going to eat all that butter, I want to taste it. I love your choice of baked goods but I totally choose the Cook’s Illustrated brownies over BC, as I’ve tried both. But, it’s all personal taste.
Jocelyn – Actually, that’s why I made them. I’ll be there.
Married Girl – I have this really great luck of “accidentally” tempering chocolate, but it’s too hard to explain my confusing ways. There are really involved ways suggested by many pastry chefs, but no novice cook wishes to smear chocolate across their counters so I have this method suggested by Cooking From Engineers bookmarked that sounds great, and super simple. I haven’t tried it yet, but their stuff usually works. And it’s really, really easy and logical.
Do you have a shortbread recipe that you’d suggest? Something good enough to eat plain – my little girl and I are planning on making some tomorrow or Sunday. We recently had a shortbread disaster when I used cake flour (I swear someone on Food Network had suggested it) and superfine sugar instead of regular flour and sugar. Mediocre on the first bite and then a rapidly growing yuckiness and horrid aftertaste. Not what you want in a cookie. And a terrible waste of Plugra.
Wow, Deb! Eating that must be somewhat of a frightening experience. It kind of sucks that the shortbread crust didn’t taste as good as it should with all that butter.
i remember this episode… she made it for her friend at the flower shop. i am going to make these for new years and her cranberry and orange scones for new years day… yum-o!
Oooh… yum! Pecans are the best, and these look delicious!
I love the ingredient item: “one cup good honey.”
Shoot! All I have is this crappy honey!
Not true, actually. I have honest-to-goodness beekeepers for sons. Don’t you wish YOU were on my Christmas gift-giving list?
That recipe is INSANE. I had to go look at the original, just to see if you were kidding about the chocolate. You were not. Hmmm. Just LOOK at all those rich, over-the-top ingredients. CRAZY.
I’m so making this.
Oh! Oh! Oh!
I forgot! I wanted to tell you I made the Fettucini with Porcini for dinner last night and it was FABULOUS. My children even ate it.
Ok, they ate it after meticulously picking out the mushrooms and setting them aside like anal little anti-fungal surgeons, but still!
OMG. I just made these last week for exactly the same reason. More than two pounds of butter! It’s like some kind of awesomely decadent challenge (I also dipped them in chocolate; in for penny, in for a pound). I kept mine in the fridge for a week and they held up beautifully, so I imagine they will freeze well.
Oww! My teeth hurt just looking at this. Your pictures of food are really good. I LOVE food blogs so I’m glad to have found you today.
Who cares about the butter when it looks and (I assume) tastes this good!
Okay, i have to say that I despise recipes that say things like “good honey” or “best quality” this or that. Like they assume most cooks are morons who keep substandard items in their pantries. Personally, i can’t tell the difference between FMV honey and the overpriced, fancy stuff. ;)
Nine sticks of butter. My heart seized up just reading that.
Ok, I am an idiot. I was there and I did not have one. What is wrong with me? How could I have missed your latest concoction?
Ha! That’s awesome, I’m so glad you made these.
The bank just called because somebody had charged 9 sticks of butter and a whole lot of brown sugar, but unfortunately no one answered because everybody suffered from fatal shrinking arteries…but looking down from the heavenly skies above I was beaming with delight!
Thanks for the recipe, decadent as can be but the end result looks great!
Just wanted to stop by and say you take gorgeous photos and post hilarious items. Thanks for doing such a great job!
Geez! That’s a buttload of butter!
How is Ina still alive??
1. Does it help if I stand up while eating [at the counter]?
2. These bars, and I recognize them, have had a bookmark on them in Ina’s cookbook for years. I have been meaning to make them. I just never had enough mouths to share them with…
3. Thanks for writing such a great post, and with great pics to boot!
Oh, I forgot, try pouring boiling water on your sticky mess: might help. Let us know when you find a great shortbread recipe!
I love the way you think. That whole throwing caution to the wind thing is so inspiring. Yes, I think I’m going to eat another scone now. :P
oh my, that amount of butter makes me shudder lol but I really admire you for not giving a damn. And you had a perfect way of disposing of most of it, which helps when trying not to eat 107 bite-sized, 187-cal squares :)
Oooh, bring on the buttah! :P
par avion design
How about skipping the chocolate dip, but using chocolate shortbread?
I saw this on Bake or Break tonight! (And I plan to try it.)
This is a recipe that I’ll have to try – fattening or not. :D
I have a huge amount of walnuts at home that are about to go rancid any day now. This is the excuse I needed to use them.
Your blog is wonderful!
Regards from Brazil,
My mother-in-law just put me in charge of bringing bars for our pre-Christmas celebration. I have a ton of pecans to use up… I think this recipe may be just the ticket!
One thing that helps shortbread is Rice Flour. It gives shortbread that texture which makes it soooooo good. You could try using half rice flour and half regular flour. This tip comes from my Scottish grandmother who knows a thing or two about good shortbread.
Martha Stewart has a recipe so close to Ina’s (Martha and Ina’s history and random, almost-feuding friendship is so fascinating to me) that after making Martha’s with great success, and then watching Ina take it to the next, insane level, the level called “Yeah, I’m doing it. I’m doing it just like that.” I had to try and combine them — the flavor of Martha’s (better crust) and the yield of Ina’s recipes and sans fifty extra sticks of butter.
But now I wish I had your guts. I wish I was brave like you.
I have seen this recipe on TV … and though it IS a heart-attack waiting to happen, you really ARE supposed to make them and share with others ;) so even with 9 sticks of butter, you’re only getting a serving (or ten, :)). These just look soooooo decadent, too bad I don’t live in the south anymore (where pecans are cheap and easy to come by and oh! so fresh :)). I WILL print this out and try it when I have a few moments to myself (and of course a pan large and deep enough to tackle this amazing dessert).
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to ALL!
(Oh, and as for shortbread, I have a recipe for lemon bars, and I think that the shortbread for THAT recipe (doubled of course) with some lemon/orange zest mixed in covered with the most amazingly decadent pecan mixture as seen above will be PERFECT!)
The pictures looked SOOOO good that I said I just have to try this recipe for myself… it came out amazing I was so glad I tried it! I was having trouble finding pecans though and ended up buying them online – http://www.jdfinefoods.com/products.asp?productID=30602&deptID=1005&parentID=1003
As someone who just had a double massive heart attack at 38, I was shocked that this recipe can up in the top 5 as I was searching for “shrinking artieries” and trying to find help for heart disease at my age. Here’s a tip, don’t eat these or anything else that requires needs 9 bars of butter to make half a pan! (although I must admit they look good, not worth my poor heart choking and sputtering on the butter).
I known it can chok your heart but you can take the new weight loss aid (alli) and it can help with all that butter,at least try a piece.I will try to make it .
I was wondering what else I could add to my Holiday baking-fest and these will make an awesome addition. And despite the butter content, I’m still tempted to eat the entire pan.
…Dear Lord…that’s like a heart-attack waiting to happen! It must be delicious! Knowing Ina Garten–her recipes are always so decadent. I feel the sudden need to try it…
The people I made this for last year, in their Christmas baskets, have asked me to make this again this year.You deserve the credit for this.
Stumbled across this the other day and decided to go for it. They turned out great, and I think everyone will love it at the Christmas party tomorrow. Thanks for the great post! :-)
deb do you think the base part of king arthor flour’s “Baltimore’s Finest” cookie might make the perfect base for this cookie too. what are your thoughts
Hey, cool…I just found this post on a random google search for something else. I made these pecan squares for our Christmas dinner this year. I used a 2 inch tall baking sheet, so had no trouble with the spillage (I think Ina suggests lining the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil, but that may have been a late addition to the recipe added over time), and I also lined my baking sheet with parchment paper, which seemed to help pop them out. My main problem was that I, too, let the topping spill between the crust and the pan, which created an almost super-glue bond between the bars and the side of my pan. Next time I will either press the edges of my crust considerably higher in an attempt to prevent this (though the topping does bubble quite a bit, so I dunno), or cut the outside edge a 1/4 inch in from the actual edge so as to avoid the super-glue-like goop altogether. I lost my pan due to gouges in the sides from using too much knife pressure to will every ounce of the bar from those darn pans. lol.
Yikes–I think I’m in love (don’t tell my husband!)
Wow, Deb. I found your site last night and stayed up til 4 am perusing recipes… Is that sad? Some people are on the computer looking at porn all night… I drool over pecans, caramel, and shortbread…
I love you!
I Have this recipe by Ina and mine says it requires a 12X18X2 inch pan. It would take two regular jelly roll pans to accomodate the amount this makes. And I would still line them with parchment paper.
The original recipe is a Culinary Institute of America recipe. I have seen and tried many variations but I feel Ina’s is the best.
This is very good and a staple at our house at Christmas and I sell them for graduation parties.
I made these today with a couple variations. I used a different shortbread recipe, like you suggested. Also, I did about 2/3 pecans and 1/3 preztels, and drizzled chocolate on the top.
wow. they are possibly the richest food i have ever made. 0_0
This looks great. I tried the recipe in Cooks Illustrated too-fabulous.
I’ve made these several times after I first saw them on Barefoot Contessa. I’ve been successful at lightening up the recipe by cutting back a bit on the butter in both the shortbread and the topping. I’ve also added a bit more vanilla to the shortbread. They are always a huge hit but I make it a point to warn everyone about their killer contents.
These were absolutely, amazingly, unbelievably decadent and delicious. And because I have some sort of sick mind, I took the time to calculate the caloric content of the full batch of squares (don’t worry, I was watching Cake Boss while doing it.) It added up to: 20,192.4. Enjoy! I know I did.
I tried this out this weekend-
I played around with proportions a bit so that I used 1/2 the “goo” with 3/4 the pecans (the 1/4 was on accident), and ~2/3 the dough. I left the dough out over night per your suggestion on the double-baked recipe.
My only concern is that the goo didn’t level out so some of the nut level separated from the shortbread.
The Shortbread tastes really buttery (went a little heavy on the butter) but also had a tendency to crumble.
Overall it was like a condensed piece of pecan pie
oh hey, i just watched this episode. 9 sticks of butter. oooohhh ina.
Can someone halve the recipe for me please?
We actually made something very much like these at the bakery I worked at in Philadelphia! Instead of all the zest, we’d use a mix of spices (ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon)… We would put them into a half-sheet pan, then put that pan on a full sheet pan lined with parchment. We’d then eat the bubbled-over spiced honey caramel from the bottom pan until we got sick! They’re awesome warm with a bit of ice cream… :)
I made these lastnight and they were absolutely disastrous. Since I knew I couldn’t afford enough pecans to make a full batch, I cut the recipe down to 1/4 of what it once was. I used a 10″ round pie pan and baked it for 25 minutes to begin with; too liquidy. Five more minutes; still too liquidy! At around the 40-minute mark, they were STILL not set, but beginning to burn around the edges, so I gave up, took them out of the oven and froze them for about an hour. They firmed up in the freezer into something like crunchy toffee with nuts in it (I was hoping for gooey pecan pie-like filling). The shortbread was burnt and so was the filling at the edges, but the squares in the middle were delicious after about 30 seconds in the microwave. I did find the shortbread a bit dull-tasting; I think I’d use another recipe for the crust in the future, if I can ever afford to make these again.
Just a quick note…I agree that’s a lot of butter. A friend just made these (1/2 batch) and cut them about 2×2 or so. She served them with ice cream and caramel syrup…Just in case the butter wasn’t enough to kill us!! Absolutely delicious, though. Portion control is a MUST with these goodies!
After making these 3 times I have decided to share how I mixed it up… Macadamias, cashews, almonds and pecans add up to the 2 Lbs of nuts I omit the orange zest and regular honey and instead use this local all natural orange chocolate honey, and I bake the mix into tarts with pie crust instead of the shortbread…YUM and it freezes nicely.
I made these last thanksgiving from Ina’s cookbook not knowing you blogged them. I thought the shortbread was a little thick. Your shortbread would be killer as a substitute!
The only way I can think of to improve this recipe is to decrease the pecans by 8 oz. and substitute 8 oz. of crumbled bacon. Probably going to be made for Thanksgiving.
For the love of god and little green apples!!! Those look amazing and they will go great for the cooling weather now.
I would love to make a version of these, but I have a question to pose – my boyfriend is deathly allergic to pecans, but can handle almonds and coconut. Do you think something like this would work well with chopped almonds, or will these be too hard/dry or some such for this use?
All the best, and as this is my first comment, I’d just like to say – amazing site, I’ve got so many of your recipes bookmarked, it’s not even funny!
I love pecan pie so this sounds good to me. A note on the oven mess – I’ve done this a few times myself and here is the best cleaning method:
In a cool oven: sprinkle baking soda on the mess. Add a little water to create a paste. Make sure the entire area is covered by the baking soda paste. Leave for one hour. Clean off the paste and the mess will be completely adhered to the baking soda and your oven surface will even be shiny.
I made a 30% recipe for a 9-inch cake pan with the crust from the lemon bar recipe (this same site). After baking, cooling, and cutting, the pieces from the center of the pan were 100% perfect quintessential pecan squares, but the edge pieces became inedibly crunchy toward the edge side. Nothing was burnt, but I suspect it was a baking time issue even though I took them out at a half hour still bubbling. A warning to people making a fraction batch – take them out way earlier than 30 minutes. They won’t be “set” but as you may have noticed, the residual in the pot from the stove phase already becomes nearly “set” as it cools.
Is this really worth making? I mean, because of all the fat.
How can I halve this recipe?
It can be halved and baked in an 8×8 pan.
I made these ages ago..and today I am obsessed with your blog and now I see you posted this so far back! Amazing recipe, your blog is my new obsession!
I’ve made Ina Garten’s pecan bars several times, but the last time I made them I decided, as you noted, that the shortbread could be better. So I searched online and found your recipe for twice-baked shortbread, which is how I discovered your blog, and just today I found this post about those same pecan bars complete with a note about the shortbread, the very reason I came here in the first place. So glad I did.
I made these and cannot tell you how in awe I was. Partially for the amount of butter and partially that it’s taken me this long to make them. I think I added a touch too much butter to the filling as it bubbled a bit when cooking. I had to dab them off with a paper towel and let the butter congeal. Did this happen to you?
After ogling the pictures of these bars on your site for years, I finally made the decision to brave this recipe despite all of the assurances that it would overflow in my oven & create the world’s biggest mess… and I was sure glad I did. They were a huge hit a xmas, and I even thought the lemon & orange zest made up for the lack of what I had presumed wasn’t going to be enough salt (I tend to believe salt makes all sweets better). But I did heed your warnings and made sure to make a good edge of the dough all around the pan, so the filling was forced to stay inside the pan. Also skipped the baking soda in the crust because of your warning that it made it too delicate for all that filling. And opted for golden syrup instead of honey because golden syrup makes everything better. Next time I might add some chopped bittersweet chocolate and top with flaky sea salt because wouldn’t that be amazing?
Hi Deb! i tried this recipe out with a different shortbread (one without egg, as you suggest) for Thanksgiving. It made a roasting pan full of pecan bars!! It was absolutely delicious and a hit on the dessert table. Thanks for the recipe! I put a more modestly sized version with the different shortbread (still Ina) on my blog: http://www.chipsandbubbly.com/2012/12/monster-pecan-bars.html
These look fab, but not sure I’d add the lemon & orange zests.
Haha! I was just emailing this recipe to a friend and noticed the url. Hilarious! I love your blog, Deb :)
okay crazy question but can this be somehow made into a pie? at least the filling used for pie or is it just too sweet?
Hi Annie — I haven’t lined up pecan pie recipes and this to see if the proportions are correct, but I suspect it could be.
Every time I look at this recipe I think it must taste incredible and also incredibly sweet. Well, I finally put it through an online calorie counter and if you cut the bars in 1″ x 1″ squares (which are the perfect size, in my opinion), they are only 89 calories each, with only 4 g sugar. Which is actually about half the calories of the similar square at Starbucks. So! This is a long-winded way to say that while I’ll probably only make a half-recipe, I’m actually going to make them, after years of dallying.
I made these for Thanksgiving! They turned out wonderfully. I read all of the comments regarding the shortbread crust so just went with Joy of Cooking shortbread crust instead – triple recipe and it’s fantastic (and only 3 sticks of butter! Thanks Deb – hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.
I made these several times, and have learned a few tricks. Like Diana (post #55), I bought a 2 inch sided half sheet pan (made by Nordicware, sold on Amazon) that I use for this recipe. It solves the overflow problem. You don’t have to line the sheet pan with parchment paper, just use a plastic knife to free the edges after the cookies have cooled.
As for the insane nature of these bars, everyone needs to keep focus on the huge quantities of bars produced by this recipe. I only make them for very large parties, or for a smaller party with freezing at least half of them. I’ve fooled with other shortbreads, but I think the rich buttery base is needed to counterpoint the sweetness of the topping. I don’t dip the bars, I do one better. Make a chocolate ganache of 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted into 1 cup of heavy cream. Let it cool and whip air into the mixture with a whisk. Then, while the mixture still can flow easily, drip in thin lines over the uncut cookies, or pipe with a pastry bag using a small star tip to make it have a nice visual.
Happy cooking, and keep up the great work.
I made half the recipe in a 9×13 pyrex, and it worked perfectly. It made an enormous quantity- I usually slice things into larger servings than Deb and end up with lower yield than she does, but these are rich enough that I got on board with her reasonable suggestion (ha!)- I was able to put them out for 2 Christmas parties (sliiiiightly late comment, oops), with rave reviews at both. I 100% agree with everyone who says not to worry about the lack of healthiness because they stretch so far! One note- if you have “nice” honey around, this is a great place to use it- I used some raw honey from a beekeeper friend, and I thought the flavor came through really well and definitely added.
I just saw this on Food Network on TV and my gallbladder was going into spasm just thinking of all that butter. So I know I’m kind of late in adding to this post.. but I wonder if any of you have tried halving the shortbread crust recipe but still using the same size pan? Looking at her bars, the crust looks pretty thick. I’d be perfectly fine with a thinner crust. Mind you, there’s still a TON of sugar and butter in that pecan filling.
Margaret — It might work. I’d be a little worried about it being very thin or not holding up well to such a heavy topping. Do note, this makes a lot. I cut them small (people appreciate it too, because they’re so rich) and got a lot of mileage out of one batch.
I’m excited to make these for a New Year’s Day party, it seems perfect for a crowd. I recently used your wonderful pecan pie recipe, could I use the Lyle’s golden syrup instead of the honey, or do you think the honey adds an essential flavor?
Thinking about using this for the company thanksgiving potluck. How much in advance can I make it? Should I chill and pre-cut squares? Would they stick to each other or should I put them in cupcake liners? Do they need to stay chilled until served?
Sorry for so many questions, this looks awesome though!
looks like the EXACT recipe from ina garten amd tweekED it by adding zest
Not sure how they compare, but the newer “ultra-nutty” pecan bars from CI are pretty addictive and have “only” half a pound of butter. For those who prefer the gooier filling, I suspect you could use the newer by-hand melted butter crust (no food processor to wash as in the earlier recipe), parbake it, and top with the gooey filling.
BTW, could you please fix the it’s/its above: “it’s weight”? And Happy New Year!
Thanks, now fixed. Will take a look. These, of course, make a ton, but in general, Ina recipes do tend to use more butter than other’s. I suspect that’s why we love them so much.
I’m supposed to be working, but am instead cruising your site for ideas to bring to a New Years Day get together. I hit the surprise me button and landed here. If I hadn’t just gotten my blood test back with cholesterol reading of 225 I would be so tempted!! But your commentary made me laugh, I love your sense of humor! Happy New Year!
Is there a way to incorporate chocolate into this recipe?
Probably! See this, or you can probably stir in a bag of chocolate chips.
So this was… a bit of a bust. The only modifications I made were to
So this was… a bit of a bust. I did 2/3 recipe for a 9×13 pan, but otherwise kept all ingredients the same. It required approx 20 min extra cooking time for the filling to set. In the end, the citrus flavor was surprisingly dominant and the remainder just tasted sweet, rather than nutty and rich. I agree with Deb’s comments that the shortbread recipe isn’t substantial enough – the caramel soaked into and compressed my shortbread. While I adore the idea of this recipe, the results simply weren’t good enough to justify the expense.
It doesn’t seem fair to me that the only “I made this” post is expressing disappointment! I halved this recipe for Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving this year, and used the shortbread crust from Deb’s lemon bars, which I’ve made many times and knew would be excellent. I baked them in a high-sided 9×13 pan with a sheet of parchment on the bottom to help with removal. I also added a good pinch of salt to the caramel to keep it from being pure sweetness, and skipped the orange zest because I didn’t have an orange handy. The results were fantastic! The bake time was perfectly spot-on for me (even with a 15lb turkey sharing the oven). I love that they ended up perfectly chewy, and that the honey comes through in the final caramel. My husband expressed doubt that we’d be able to get through even the half-batch, but I have no such qualms – these will be gone too soon!
Thank you. It might be because this recipe is from 2006 (!) and the comment-sorting feature only arrived in 2016. Glad it was a hit!
I just made your pecan pie for Thanksgiving and have leftover golden syrup. Can I sub the honey for the golden syrup, you think, or any other ideas on what to do with the leftover golden syrup? Thank you!
Agree with the other commenter who was surprised aboit the only “I made this” comment being nagative. I made this a few years ago for a holiday party (back when that was a thing we could do) and it was a huge hit, to the pount that the host asked me to leave some of it behind. Planning to make it again this year to deliver to relatives since we can’t gather. Thank you for the recipe! As always, love your site and cookbook!
Wow! The autocorrect on my tablet is terrible. Sooo many typos! Sorry about that. :)
This looks so good. you commented that it’s a huge recipe and that the shortbread isn’t the best. Would you consider adapting it, for example, cut in half and improve the shortbread? that would be heaven.
Yes, I’d love to.
Can I freeze the pecan squares?
Hi, Deb! I’m looking at this scrumptious, heart-clogging recipe and wondering a couple of things: do you think the pecan filling needs a smidge of salt to offset all that sweetness from the sugar? I was thinking of adding 1/4 t. Also, I’m wondering about the lemon and orange zest–as in, what’s the reason for adding it?
And I’m with you on the 9×13 pan!
Yes, I’d definitely add salt today. You can probably go up to 1/2 teaspoon. If you don’t want a background citrus aroma, definitely skip it. Vanilla, bourbon, etc. are all wonderful in pecan fillings.
Hi Deb! I made these last year, and I’m trying them again tomorrow for Canadian Thanksgiving. Last year when I made them, I tried using a different shortbread recipe, and they turned out divine, but gosh, this is such a huge amount of cookie. Just throwing out an idea, and I’ll come back and report….Do you think you could use your classic shortbread recipe from last year (8-inch square) as the base and cut the filling in half? When I cut these last year, the filling was taller because I used a smaller pan…and I cut them in skinny, tall rectangles. HUGE hit. They ate more like candy with a cookie base. I will give my combo of your shortbread and the pecan bar recipes a shot tomorrow (reducing the pecan topping by half) and report back!
So excited to comment that the following worked out perfectly:
1.5 recipe of your classic shortbread (2021) with .5 of the pecan caramel filling outlined here in an 8×13 cake pan worked out perfectly. My cut pieces looked exactly like the photos of your cookies in the recipe, but the shortbread held up beautifully to the filling. I cooked the shortbread at 300 degrees for 20 minutes before pouring the filling on top and baking again, but I think it could have handled 350 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes instead. Also, I recommend either adding finishing salt on top of the hot filling right after it comes out of the oven, or adding more salt to the filling before pouring over the shortbread and baking.
What would you add to the crust to do it differently this time?