Is it just me, or do you also find it next to impossible to find pareve deep dish pie crusts in the freezer section of the supermarket right before Thanksgiving? They are dairy, or the only crusts left are all broken, or something. Maybe I should have shopped earlier?
Homemade crusts are better, anyway, but I am so not in the mood to be rolling out crusts.
Fortunately, I remembered about my pecan bars. The crust is an easy press-in dough and, when all is said and done, you end up with forty bars, which is a bigger serving yield than you would get from a pie anyway. Isn’t it easier to platter and serve bar cookies than pie? Most people want just a nibble after all that heavy food.
And these pecan bars are exceptional, with a perfect balance of nuts, maple brown sugar goo and crust.
See, it turned out for the best. Who needs frozen pie crusts? Not me.
Maple Pecan Bars
Adapted from the Maple Shortbread Bars from The New Carry-out Cuisine, Phyllis Meras as adapted by Regina Schrambling in a September 2001 NYT article. The original recipe from Carry-Out Cuisine called for walnuts instead of pecans, and the baking time was quite different. I like to throw in a little Bourbon, but that is totally optional.
To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, salt and shortening in a mixing bowl to make a soft dough; spread the dough in an even layer in 9″x13″ pan; bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; and then remove from oven and let cool:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, margarine or shortening
Tip: line the 9″x13″ pan with non-stick foil or parchment, or even both. I put parchment on bottom and then a layer of non-stick foil over that. The filling tends to leak through and cause the bars to stick to the pan. You can’t be too careful here.
Combine the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour over the crust; bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
4 Tbl. melted butter (I use coconut oil)
1 tsp. vanilla (I use closer to a Tbl., plus I add a Tbl. of bourbon and a pinch of cinnamon)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups pecans (stir in last)
Tip: you will need to evenly spread the pecans on top, and you might need to add some more pecans to get an even distribution over the top. You can either chop the pecans, or use the halves, unchopped.