Pecan Pie Bars
I did not grow up loving pecan pie. I always chose apple, peach or butterscotch over pecan. What was I thinking?! I have since come to love it, especially around the holidays. I have come to crave it, actually. That rich gooey, nutty, buttery filling makes me weak.in.the.knees.
I felt like I needed to kick it up a notch this year, though. Go beyond the regular filling and original pie crust. I was thinking about other pies that I crave. I was thinking about all different pie recipes that are over-the-top and there was one that goes beyond all other pies. The Milk Bar Crack Pie. You remember right? I fell head-over-heals in love with that pie – the crust, the filling…everything about that pie made me grin.
So I made a few changes, added in some Missouri pecans, changed the shape to bar-form and here it is, dessert of Thanksgiving 2012: Pecan Pie Bars. Even if you dislike pecan pie, give this one a try. The filling is more brown-sugar-y and buttery than the usual recipe; the crust is made of a sort-of oat cookie recipe and the texture is different – almost like caramel.
Don’t stray after looking at the time it takes, the ingredients and/or the directions. A lot of the time involved is “hurry up and wait” kind of timing. The cookie crust is so simple to put together; the filling is fast, it just takes all of your attention. It doesn’t take long to bake, just has to cool completely and then set in the freezer. So, really, take the time to make these pecan pie bars, you can decorate your tree between steps. You, and your guests, will not be sorry.
Pecan Pie Bars
Yield: 1 9x9 pan
Total Time: 5 hours (includes prep time, baking time and chilling time)
Ooey gooey caramel-y and buttery pecan pie in bar form. Inspired by Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie.
for the pie:
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)
1 Tbs. light brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)
for the oat cookie:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 tsp. baking powder
pinch baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 Tbs. white sugar, granulated
1 large egg yolk
for the crack pie filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. corn powder (corn powder is defined as freeze-dried corn, ground to a fine powder)
2 Tbs. milk powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks (make sure you remove all of the egg white)
1 cup pecan halves
To prepare the Oat Cookie crust, preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On a lower speed, add the egg to incorporate. Increase the speed back up to a medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white color. On low speed, add dry ingredients. Mix 60-75 seconds until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Your dough will still be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat. Plop the oat cookie dough in the center of the pan and with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4″ thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan, this is okay. Bake the oat cookie for 15 minutes. Cool completely before using in the recipe.
Line a 9x9 square baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing a bit to hang over the edges. Spray the foil liberally with non-stick cooking spray. When the oat cookie is cool, combine it in a food processor with one tablespoon brown sugar and one-quarter teaspoon salt. Pulse the mixture on and off until it resembles wet sand. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the five tablespoons melted butter and knead the mixture until it is moist enough to form a ball.
Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish with foil and spread out in an even layer, compressing with your hands. Use a spatula to smooth out the surface.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To prepare the pie filling, mix the sugars, salt, corn powder and milk powder using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on low speed. Be sure to keep your mixer on low speed during the entire process of preparing the filling; if you try to mix on any higher than a low speed, you will incorporate too much air in the following steps and your pie will not be dense and gooey – the essence of the crack pie. Add the melted butter to the mixer and paddle until all the dry ingredients are moist. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until the white from the cream has completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the egg yolks to the mixer, paddling them in to the mixture just to combine. Gently fold in the pecans. Be careful not to aerate the mixture.
Pour the filling into the pan with the oat cookie crust. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. The bars will still be very jiggly. At 10 minutes, open the oven door and reduce the baking temperature to 325°. Depending on your oven this will take 5-10 minutes – keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven temperature reads 325, close the door and finish baking the bars for another 20-25 minutes. The bars will still be a little jiggly in the center, but will be set on the edges, and will be golden brown.
Remove the bars from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Freeze your pie for as little as 3 hours or up to overnight to condense the filling. Cut into squares.
Inspired & adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook
Some more pecan pie recipes: