Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pecan pie bars

Ah, memories. Eating a cookie outdoors on the back porch. Was the weather ever really that warm? I ask while admiring the gray slush of the first day of March. See the summer afternoon sun glowing on the plate ... consider me, back when I was "Chicago Baking Examiner" for Examiner.com (do they still exist?).

Golly, it looks like they do. But is there still a baking examiner for the city? One fears not. 

Anyway this unusual and very easy pecan pie bar recipe comes from Thoughts for Buffets, the same interesting old 1950s-era cookbook that is the source for Brisket Arcadia and Ozark pudding. Glancing over it I think you'll be struck by a number of things. We are required first of all to gather together only five ingredients, no salt or leavening among them. Then we must "butter a large jelly-roll pan very heavily." How heavily? One of our mere five ingredients is a quarter pound of butter. That's a stick. Nothing specifically says "use that." You'll figure it out.

Have ready:
4 eggs
1 pound of brown sugar
1 and 1/4 cups flour
1/4 pound softened butter
1 cup pecan nuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Beat together until light and caramel colored the eggs, brown sugar, and flour. Use the softened butter to coat the jelly roll pan thickly (you may also use a 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish). Lay the chopped pecans over the butter and gently shake and tap the pan to scatter them. Spread the egg mixture over the nuts. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the cake is warm, you may frost it with a combination of 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon softened butter, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice beaten into an icing; or you can leave it plain. Cut it into strips when it is cool. You will find the finished bars to be a slightly crunchy but rich cake layer atop a typically gooey and delicious pecan pie filling.

And, rather than reach for a glass of milk or cup of coffee with these, try them -- especially if you leave them unfrosted -- with a little glass of wine. An inexpensive but fruity and robust shiraz would be very nice, don't you think, or a crisp, sweet, and mouth-watering riesling?

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