Pecan pie is
good in theory. Who quibbles with pie? Or pecan? And
yet, the two pleasures, united in the oven, separate. Flaky
pastry clings to the bottom of the pan. Crisp nuts rise to
the top. In between lurks a layer of goo. Theres no
explaining this strange alchemy short of reading an
simply simplify. Pecan bars cut to the crunch: tender
shortbread below, caramelized nuts above. With little
interference in between. A few chocolate chunks, perhaps.
But who quibbles with chocolate?
short and sweet, are compact enough to count as cookie
no need for fork, fridge or fear.
2 1/2 cups
1 stick (1/2
cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dark
chocolate disks, chips or chunks
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out pecans on a rimmed
baking sheet; slide into oven and toast until nuts darken
slightly and give off a sweet, nutty fragrance, about 6
minutes. Pull out pan; leave oven on. Pour nuts onto a work
surface to cool.
Measure 1/2 cup toasted pecans into the food processor. Pile
in all pastry ingredients, in order. Process to a soft
dough, about 30 seconds.
Line a 9-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with parchment paper,
leaving some overhang. Pat in pastry. (Cover pastry with
waxed paper while patting if dough is sticky). Bake until
dry to the touch, but still soft, 10 minutes. Pull out pan;
leave oven on.
Caramelize: To make the top, scatter sugar into a heavy
skillet. Heat over medium-high until sugar melts and turns
caramel brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining toasted
pecans and turn down heat to low. Stir in the butter, cream,
salt and vanilla. Pull pan off heat. Scatter in chocolate
and stir once, just enough to mix in, not completely melt,
Scrape nut mixture over par-baked pastry. Bake, 10 minutes.
Cool completely. Grasp parchment overhang and lift out.
Slice into 2-by-1-inch bars; you should have 32. Enjoy.