Monday, November 19, 2012

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars

Is Thanksgiving seriously in 3 days?

I feel like Labor Day was last week. How on earth did this holiday sneak up so quickly? I haven't even completed my traditional pre-Thanksgiving ritual of watching all 10 Thanksgiving episodes of Friends back to back. Have I mentioned my obsession with Friends on here before? You know how there's comfort food? Friends is the TV version of comfort food to me. I own every season, I know every line, and something about the familiarity and predictability of it is very relaxing to me. The Thanksgiving episodes are the absolute best, and the phrase "squtternut bosh" will never not be hilarious. 

One of my favorite episodes titled "The One With All the Thanksgivings" occurred in season five of the series. This episode revolves around the group's flashbacks to their worst Thanksgivings ever. One of the flashbacks reveals that during college, Ross brought his Thanksgiving-hating roommate, Chandler, home to Long Island for Thanksgiving. Chandler's refusal to eat any Thanksgiving foods prompts Ross' younger sister Monica to make him a batch of macaroni and cheese. At one point during the episode, (see 3:08 in this video), she asks Chandler if he liked the macaroni and cheese, to which he nonchalantly replied, "oh yeah, it was great, you should be a chef." Monica exclaims, "okay!", and as any avid Friends fan knows, she did just that.

Ever since I started cooking, I've always loved that moment because I totally get Monica's enthusiastic response. One of the reasons I love to bake is because it makes people happy, and makes them feel loved and appreciated when you put the time into making something homemade just for them. The approval that Monica got from Chandler in that moment is something I get a little bit of every time I make something delicious that people enjoy, albeit in a less sarcastic tone.

Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars
I guarantee you that if you make these salted maple pecan pie bars this Thanksgiving, you'll have a Monica and Chandler moment with one of your dinner guests. I think I like these even better than traditional pecan pie. I know most people are all about the crust when it comes to pie, but I'm more of a pie filling kind of girl myself. The crust is good, but it's not what I'm there for. Here, instead of a traditional pie crust, you have a brown sugar shortbread type situation that is absolutely delicious. It's topped with a traditional pecan pie filling, and sprinkled with fleur de sel to balance out the intense sweetness. If you're having a lot of people over for Thanksgiving this year, this would be an excellent dessert to make since it serves way more people than a traditional pie.

Any other Friends fanatics out there? I'm assuming if you're still reading, you are. If you are, just know that we'd be friends in real life. I got to know one of my great friends (hi Molly!) when we shared an office at my last job, and I'm pretty sure that 50% of the reason we became friends is because both of us understood that a "moo point" is a cow's opinion.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of my U.S. readers, and for everyone else, have a happy fourth Thursday in November!

Here's what you'll need:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour (plus a bit more if necessary)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecan halves
Fleur de Sel for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 glass baking dish with heavy duty aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all four sides.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup brown sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in flour until coarse crumbs form. If your dough is still a bit sticky, add in more flour by the tablespoon. I used an additional 3 tablespoons. The dough should be crumbly, but able to stick together when pressed.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, and press evenly into the pan, packing down well. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until it has slightly puffed and appears dry on top.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, 3/4 cup brown sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the pecan halves.

After removing the crust from the oven, pour the filling over the top, and spread evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. (Note: a reader told me that hers needed an additional 5 minutes on top of this to fully cook. Use your best judgment, because you don't want to under-cook these! They should not be excessively sticky on top when you remove them.) Remove from the oven when the filling appears mostly set (mine took the full 20 minutes), and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Cool for 2 hours at room temperature, and refrigerate overnight before cutting. I refrigerated mine for about 18 hours before slicing these - definitely don't rush it! Remove the bars from the pan using the foil handles (you may need to loosen the edges with a sharp knife, because the sugary syrup gets below the foil a bit), and cut into 24 bars with a sharp knife. Serve cold.

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Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum

14 comments:

  1. Oh, YUM! I'm more of a filling fan than a crust fan, too, so i know i'd love these bars. they look soooo good!

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  2. When my roomie and I took our first "Big Girl" jobs in a new city after college, the crew of Friends were our first BFFs. Sad? Maybe, but we didn't care. In our 2 years together, we watched all 10 seasons multiple times, wine in had. I completely understand the comparison to comfort food!
    PS. I freaking love pecan pie, and these bars look killer. YES it is all about the filling, sorry crust. I still need you, but you are my vehicle.

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  3. Aww thanks for the shout out, pal! I meant to tell you the other day I bought a butternut squash and was giggling to myself in the store... pretty sure I looked crazy. But what's new? Thanks for all your great recipes; quite a few will be making an appearance at our Thanksgiving!

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    1. OMG, I think you did text me that! Maybe that's how the idea for this post got in my subconcious in the first place. It's like we're one mind! (That should probably be more terrifying for you than for me...)

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    2. P.S. - I deserve major friend points for referring to you by your real name and not as "troll" in this post!

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  4. Ha - you're right! I looked back and I did send you a squtternut bosh text! Totally forgot. But we are of one mind, there is no doubt. Clearly you got the memory part, however...

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  5. Awesome, awesome post! You know how obsessed I am with Friends! And you know I'm making these bars for that Monica Chandler moment, right? :)

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  6. oh my. salted? maple? pecan? YUM!!

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  7. I am totally with you on the pie filling vs crust thing. Most times, I literally just scrape the crust clean. It's never really made my mother happy. Especially since she is a stickler about making from-scratch crust. Wooops. These bars look divine by the way!

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  8. Well, I like the crust, but brown sugar shortbread sounds pretty good and Salted Maple Pecan Pie Bars sounds A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

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  9. "my two greatest enemies ross, rachel green and complex carbohydrates" hahah loved that t'gives episode with brad pitt!

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  10. It's been ages since I watched Friends! Love anything with pecans!

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