Pecan Bars

Pecan Bars

Reprinted with permission from Fat Witch Brownies: Brownies, Blondies, and Bars from New York's Legendary Fat Witch Bakery by Patricia Helding with Bryna Levin (Rodale, Inc., 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Patricia Helding.

Makes 12 to 16 bars

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you also feel like a drink. Full of pecans and flavored with a nip of rum, these bars fit the bill. The recipe is unfussy and easy to adapt. Use walnuts, hazelnuts, or any nut combination. You can also omit the rum and they will still be fabulous. Eating one is like devouring the warm, gooey part of a pecan pie — with your fingers. A scoop of vanilla ice cream makes them even more luscious.

Crust:

1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter not yet to room temperature, cut into pieces
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Filling:

4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dark or light rum (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1-3/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Grease a 9-inch x 9-inch baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar with a fork. Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing after each until well blended.
Stir in the pecans by hand and spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared baking pan, using your fingers to tap down lightly. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden and the sides are light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the crust is in the oven, make the filling. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, rum (if desired), and salt. Stir in the cooled butter and mix until just blended. Add the egg and mix until well combined.
Pour the filling over the hot crust and sprinkle the pecans on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is brown and small cracks form on the surface.Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cut just before serving.