Published December 12, 2006.
More often than not, this cookie-jar classic is bland and overly sweet. How do you make a pecan bar really worth eating?
Pecan bars can suffer from the same problems as pecan pie: a dense or tough crust, a saccharine sweet, bland filling, or a mild nut flavor.
We wanted all the best attributes of pecan pie—buttery crust, gooey filling, and nutty topping—into individual, bite-size bar cookies.
Since there is less filling in a pecan bar than in a pie, we found the flavors needed to be concentrated. We cut back on both wet and dry ingredients to find the perfect balance of sweetness and gooeyness. We also added a substantial amount of vanilla extract along with bourbon (or rum). The liquor cut through the sweetness and intensified the flavor of the nuts, as did a healthy dose of salt. To maximize the pecan flavor, we toasted them. Nut size also proved to be important. Whole pecans were attractive, but made the bars hard to cut; finely chopped nuts were not as visually appealing. We settled on coarsely chopped nuts. Adding ground pecans to the crust gave a final nutty flavor boost to our bars.list of recipes