Probably, you have everything set for your Thanksgiving menu. Probably, you have already bought all your groceries and organized a schedule for what to make when and how to fit everything, Tetris-style, into your oven. Probably, you’ve already done a lot of prep work and are knee-deep into baking or buying your chosen array of pies. Probably, you have no need for an extra dessert on your table or in your belly.
Here’s the unhelpful kind of friend that I am: even as I realize all of that, here I am at the very last minute, irresponsibly trying to persuade you otherwise, and annoyingly suggesting/insisting that you might want to consider adding just one more thing.
Would it help if I explained that these pecan pie bars are completely addictive, with a crust that stays tender and soft, with a fantastic flavor thanks to the miracle of browned butter, a pecan-packed filling with the consistency and rich flavor of a chewy maple sugar candy, and the lightest flake of sea salt on top? Would it help to mention that you can make these with less than an hour of active time? No need for a prepared pie crust, no rolling, no fluting, etc. Would it make a difference to know that anyone who walks into your house while these are baking will almost certainly comment on how incredibly warm and comforting and delicious it smells?
Bottom line, whether you need an extra dessert for this year’s Thanksgiving spread or not, I highly recommend these for any time you do want a can’t-stop-at-one pecan pie look-alike without quite all the work of a “regular” pecan pie. Try not to eat the entire pan yourself, but if you swipe an edge or two or three while cutting them into squares, well, you wouldn’t be alone. ; )
Brown Butter Slab Pecan Pie
Yields approximately 2 dozen bars
For the crust:
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 large eggs
3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
sea salt for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9”x13” baking pan with a large piece of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of parchment on the sides that will allow you to lift the finished bars easily out of the pan.
To make the crust, melt 1 cup butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. After melting, the butter will begin to foam, then form small dark brown specks as it takes on a nutty aroma. Once the butter has browned, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for approximately 5 minutes.
Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt to the saucepan along with the browned butter. Stir to blend. Add the flour and stir again until evenly combined. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking pan, and use your hands or a rubber spatula to press into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and beat lightly with a whisk or a fork; set aside. Combine the 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine and dissolve sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring the mixture to a boil, and continue boiling for 3 minutes. During this time, carefully scoop approximately 1/2 cup of the mixture out into a glass measuring cup. Slowly pour the hot liquid into the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly so the eggs do not scramble. Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, continuing to whisk constantly. After the 3 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the pecans and pour mixture evenly over the partially-baked crust.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, before using the parchment overhang to lift the slab out of the pan. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers (lucky you!) can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Source: Barely adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction1