Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pecan Heavy Weights

Like most people, I look at Paula Deen with her heavy cream, rich chocolate, and of course, sticks of butter, and I want to gag. When listening to an NPR show a few months back, I heard her tell her audience she'd actually developed a grilled hamburger with Krispy Kreme Donuts as the buns. I just want to know... WHEN I have my heart attack, what does she recommend for the recovery period?

That said, I stumbled upon this recipe for Pecan Bars a few years ago and decided they were just too decadent not to make. I think I made this justification because it was not a recipe off her part of the Food Network site, but from the Barefoot Contessa's. I should have known better. Believe me when I say I should have read the directions before attempting to feed others these bars. They are both highly addictive and fattening - even Paula Deen would have to reconsider this one.



Pecan Heavy Weights



Special Tools You'll Need:
  • 1 inch deep 18"x12" baking sheet (make sure it's at least 1 inch deep or you'll have major spillage)
  • electric mixer
  • zester

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature (this is an ENTIRE BOX and THEN SOME of butter... we are not messing around here, kids)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter (yes, more butter)
  • 1 cup good honey (coat the inside of a glass measuring cup with Pam before you put the honey in - it'll slide right out!)
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed (or a mix of light and dark, because that's what I had on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the tar out of the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well on a slower speed. Easy now. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making a tall edge around the outside. It will be super sticky, so sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Most likely, it'll pillow up a smidge, but just poke it with a tooth pick and it'll settle down. Allow to cool completely.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir, taking in a deep whiff of what you have just done. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans, and keep that spoon in your hands. You'll need it to fend off people and their sticky fingers trying to eat the candied pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve, or follow the chocolate drizzle steps bellow.


Chocolate Drizzle


8 oz semi-sweet chocolate squares, coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons heavy cream


In a microwave safe glass bowl, combine the chocolate and the 4 tablespoons of heavy cream. Microwave in one minute increments until the chocolate starts to become "gushy". Take it out of the microwave, stir it all together until smooth, and asses whether or not it's runny enough. If it's not, microwave again for another 30 seconds.

Pour into a plastic bag, snipping a smidge off the end to make a small hole. Gently drizzle the chocolate in a zig zag fashion across the pecan bars. Place in an out of the way area, away from sticky fingers, until the chocolate has set. Enjoy!

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