Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Maple Pecan Bars

I finished my juice cleanse on Wednesday night and all I could think about on Thursday were baked goods. I wanted to make everything. I wanted the sounds and smells of the holidays to take over my house. So, when I got home I busted out the wrapping paper, gifts I'd bought, put on Love, Actually, and flipped to the cookies sections in some of my favorite cookbooks.

I needed to find something to make that wouldn't involve a run to the store... until it dawned on me that I didn't have eggs. I wanted to bake and I didn't have any eggs... Seriously?

Movie paused. Grocery list written up. Reusable bag grabbed.

I thought, "while I'm here, I may as well get some (insert everything you can think of here)"... brussel sprouts, pecans, frozen burritos, heavy cream...

I saved the frozen burritos and brussel sprouts for another day because I remembered seeing something about maple pecan bars while I was flipping through my books and watching Colin Firth fall in love with the pretty Portuguese girl.

Yes, maple pecan bars would be lovely.

But you know what's not in maple pecan bars? ...


No eggs in the crust, no eggs in the filling.

Yes, that was why I went out in the first place. I also told myself I needed vegetables, but I could have gone out to vegetables on Friday when husband was home. I was going out for eggs so I could bake.

No matter. Turns out, I love maple pecan bars whether they have eggs or not. I also love how packed brown sugar comes out of measuring cups perfectly shaped like the cup. It makes me want to build a sand castle out of brown sugar. A brown sugar castle.

I am also going to tell you that this made my house smell like magic. Un-be-lieve-able magic. Dean Martin singing Christmas carols magic.

He just so happened to be singing me Christmas carols at the time.

My tall skinny house smelled like magic top to bottom. The smell lingered and I smelled it at the top of the stairs when I went up to bed.

I let it cool and set overnight... because it was pretty late when I pulled them out of the oven and I didn't have the patience to wait until it cooled before digging in. So I just went to bed so I didn't have to look at it.

Baked desserts always make amazing breakfasts anyway.

Recipe adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking

1 1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. packed medium brown sugar
1 stick of butter

1/3 c. maple syrup
6 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. packed medium brown sugar
2 c. roughly chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease your 8 x 8 square baking dish and set aside.

For the crust, combine flour and brown sugar in food processor. Pulse two or three times until combined. Add the cold butter, in chunks, pulse 8 to 10 times or until dough clumps to about the size of peas.

Press into the bottom of an 8x8 square baking dish (I used a 9x6 baking dish) and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While it bakes, combine maple syrup, butter and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan and cook on medium until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for one minute. The remove from the heat and add the heavy cream and chopped pecans.

Remove the crust from the oven and pour the pecan mixture evenly over the crust. Return to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set when you give the pan a gentle shake.

There you can either cut the squares out one at a time or go around the edge of the pan, pop the whole thing out and cut them with a big knife in one foul swoop.


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