Have I mentioned before that I am a Southern girl? I was born in Chattanooga, TN and raised in Birmingham, AL you really can’t get much more southern than that. I have lived all over the south from Atlanta to Nashville and a few other places in between before we headed out west to Southern California. Being a true southern girl I have a tendency to say weird quirky things that apparently people here on the west coast find hilarious and I also have a soft spot in my heart for southern inspired food. I love a good biscuit , have a weakness for things that are fried, I like my tea slightly sweetened, and I cannot resist pecan pie. I don’t eat my southern indulgences every day or even every week, but I do sometimes feel the need to embrace my decadent roots and treat myself.
The past few weeks have been such an exciting time for our family! We have had so many great things happening for us in both our personal and professional lives and family birthdays galore so for those reasons I felt that it was time to tap into my love of the South and make a special dessert to celebrate. I couldn’t decide between buttery shortbread like we had growing up or pecan pie like my grandmother used to make, so I combined the two and made a new to me southern inspired treat.
Let me just go ahead and clear the air now by acknowledging that this dessert has both sugar and butter. I know, it’s not the healthiest dessert in the world, but I have lots of recipes for those if you want them. This recipe my friends is a special occasion kind of a thing. A once in a while, simply indulgent treat for my family and friends to celebrate all of the great things currently happening in our lives type of a thing. We are foregoing birthday cakes and munching on pecan pie bars…that’s acceptable, right?
So tell me, what is your once in a while favorite decadent treat?
** UPDATE 6/11/15 ** A reader has pointed out to us that the crust doesn’t hold together as well if you bake this recipe with King Arthur Flour brand gluten free flour mix. For this reason it may be best to use Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour as we suggest below.Print
- For the crust:
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups of Cup 4 Cup brand gluten free all-purpose flour
- For the filling:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups raw pecan halves
- 1/2 teaspoon gluten free pure vanilla extract
- For the crust: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the softened butter and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2- 2 1/2 minutes. Add the salt and mix to combine. Add the gluten free all-purpose flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Continue mixing until the batter clings together in clumps.
- In a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan press the dough into an even 1/4-inch thick layer. Prick the dough all over with a fork and place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for approximately 15-20 minutes. When the dough is firm transfer the pan to the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
- For the filling: Place the butter, brown sugar, honey, granulated sugar, and heavy cream in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, being sure to stir constantly until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the salt, nuts and vanilla. **Be careful when adding the vanilla to the hot sugar mixture. It will splatter and foam** Stir to combine and pour the filling over the cooled crust in an even layer.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until the filling is bubbling, Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely. Once the bars have cooled and the topping has set run a paring knife around the edges of the pan and invert the bars onto an empty sheet pan. Invert again onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut into 1 x 3-inch bars. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.
Adapted from Martha Stewart: Cookies
The prep time entered for this recipe is active prep time. This does not include the time for the butter to soften or for the crust to cool in between baking periods.