Caramel Pecan Bars

Ingredients

  • Crust:
    • 1 cup flour
    • cup powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
    • A few drops of water, as needed
  • Caramel Pecan Filling:
    • 1 ½ cup (6 oz) coarsely chopped pecan halves
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
    • ¼ cup light corn syrup
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an ungreased 9 by 13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure that the foil is tucked tightly into all the corners and that there is enough foil on all sides that it can be gripped firmly when it's full.
  2. Prepare the crust: Combine the flour, powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small or medium mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, mix on low speed to combine. Add the 7 Tbsp of butter and mix on low speed until the ingredients just begin to come together in a clump. If they don't want to clump, add just a few drops of water at a time, mixing briefly, until they do.
  3. Sprinkle this mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan and press with fingertips (or better, hands covered with plastic bags) into an even layer. Put the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes, then bake until the edges are just golden, 18 to 20 minutes. When the crust comes out of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  4. Prepare the filling: Toast the pecan pieces in a frying pan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to color and become fragrant, about 7 minutes. Pour out of the pan and set aside.
  5. Combine the 2 Tbsp of butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Boil for 1 minute, stirring, then stir in the pecans and then the cream (watching out for a boilup). Boil for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the vanilla.
  6. Pour the hot filling onto the warm crust. Use the back of the spoon to distribute the nuts evenly across the pan. Return the pan to the oven (at 325 degrees) and bake until the filling is bubbling and slightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes or more. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool completely.
  7. Lift the foil from the pan onto a cutting board and use a sharp chef's knife (pressing down, not sawing) to cut into 24 or 32 pieces. In the unlikely event any are left, store them in an airtight container.
  8. Each piece is 3 Weight Watchers points
© Jay Deitch 2013