Pecan Squares

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This is a very humble name for a not humble at all dessert. It is not a cookie or a cake, but has a shortbread cookie-like crust. And it is not a pie but does have a sticky sweet filling very similar to a pecan pie. Their humbleness is quite appropriate for a day when we should give thanks, be thankful, be grateful.

I make these to take to my sister-in-laws’ Thanksgiving feast because they are delicious and appreciated every year. This recipe is easy and it feeds a crowd plus provides leftovers for the crowd to enjoy the next day. The citrus added to the filling really brightens the flavor and makes them special. These pecan squares are “someone cares for you” in a dessert form.

Adapted from an Ina Garten recipe.

For the crust:

5 sticks unsalted butter at room temp.

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs at room temp.

3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

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For the filling:

4 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup honey

3 cups packed light brown sugar

2 tsp grated orange zest

1/4 cup heavy cream

5 bags pecans (6 oz. each), coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

For the crust, beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add gradually to the batter with the mixer on low. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased baking sheet (18 x 12 x 1 inch), making an edge up the sides. It will be sticky so have flour on hand for your hands. Bake 15 minutes until set but not browned. Set aside to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar and zest in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan. Cook over low heat, stirring as the butter melts. Then bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust trying to keep it within the edges. Bake over another larger sheet (it may bubble over) for 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and let cool. Place in fridge for a bit to make cutting them easier.

Plays well with others: These will keep well wrapped and in the fridge up to a week. Try making with other nuts like peanuts, walnuts or pistachios.

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