Pecan Pie Bars

I'm a true southerner and I love pecan pie. Period. These pecan pie bars are my hand held version made with a buttery crust, tart cranberries and crunchy pecans floating in a luscious filling.  In the name of recipe-testing, I've kept batches in my freezer. I often defrost and taste a bar just to make sure these continue to freeze well.  All of this testing is for your benefit. Really.  Head to the kitchen, make a batch and share with your friends.  They'll thank you.  If you're really ambitious make a few extra batches, freeze them and get a jump start on your holiday baking. 

PECAN PIE BARS

Servings: 16 bars

 

CRUST

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

12 Tablespoons butter, chilled

 

FILLING

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup corn syrup

8 Tablespoons butter, melted

2 eggs

1 Tablespoon orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

1/2 cup dried cranberries

CRUST

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper leaving extra parchment hanging over the sides for easy removal of the bars.  

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt and baking powder until well combined. Use a grater to grate the butter into the bowl.  Toss with the flour mixture to coat the butter pieces. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough resembles pebble size pieces.  Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

FILLING

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, eggs, orange zest, vanilla and salt until well combined.  Add the pecans and cranberries and whisk until combined.  

2.  Pour the filling over the baked crust.  Bake until the top is browned and the filling is set, 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into bars. 

MAKE AHEAD: Bars can be made 2 days ahead and kept covered at room temperature. The slab of bars, without being cut, can also be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in a 1-gallon size re-sealable freezer bag for up to 4 weeks in the freezer. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.  Cut into bars and serve at room temperature.