Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pecan Pie Bars with Jack Daniels Buttercream

OK even for me these bar cookies are over the top. I first made them about 3 years ago for a fundraiser that Doug and I catered for the Triangle Gay Men's Chorus. These were an instant classic. If you like pecans then this is your cookie. It is mostly nuts barely held together with a honey-based caramel atop a very very buttery shortbread crust.

These bars are excellent on their own, but topped with a dollop of heavily-spiked Jack Daniels buttercream, they become transcendent. The buttercream is a bit of work, but WELL worth the effort. I suppose I needn't remind you that unless you leave out the Jack Daniels (which would be no fun), these are definitely an adult treat.

If you have a cold place to store the cookies, you can pipe the buttercream on them in advance and allow them to come to room temperature before serving. If not, just pipe the buttercream on before serving.

Pecan Pie Bars with Jack Daniels Buttercream
makes about 4 dozen

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg yolks (reserve one egg white for the buttercream)
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 lbs pecans
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 F

Place pecans on a large jelly roll pan and toast them at 350 for 12-15 minutes until they become fragrant. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Make Crust:
Spray a 10 x 15 jelly roll pan lightly with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a fitted piece of parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl combine butter and sugar and salt and mix until smooth. Add egg yolks and cream and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides. Slowly add flour to bowl while mixing, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until dough forms. Do not over mix or shortbread will be tough. With lightly floured fingers press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10- 15 minutes until very lightly golden. Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325 F.

Make Filling:
Coarsley chop toasted pecans. In a medium sized sauce pan combine butter, brown sugar, salt and honey and stir over high heat until butter melts. Bring mixture to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add cream and stir until combined. Add pecans and mix until all nuts are coated.

Pour nut mixture into prepared crust and spread with a spatula to all corners (mixture will be very thick and sticky). Bake at 325 for 20 minutes until topping begins to bubble. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan.

Run a sharp knife around perimeter of pan to separate cookies from side of pan. Invert pan on a cutting board and tap sharply to release cookies from pan. Remove parchment paper and invert on another cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2 -inch squares. Top with Jack Daniels Buttercream.

Jack Daniels Buttercream:

This is a very alcoholic buttercream, and is definitely not for wimps or children. Don't worry about the inclusion of egg whites, they are thoroughly cooked by the hot syrup, and there is enough alcohol in the buttercream to keep any bacteria at bay for weeks!

1/4 cup granulated sugar
scant 1/4 cup water

1 egg white
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 stick very soft (not melted) unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup Jack Daniels

In a small sauce pan combine 1/4 cup sugar and scant 1/4 cup water. Heat over high heat.

Meanwhile combine reserved egg white and 2 Tbsp granulated sugar in bowl of mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk egg white with sugar on high until a fluffy glossy meringue is achieved.

While meringue is whisking continue to cook sugar syrup to a boil. Boil syrup for 3 minutes.

Reduce speed on mixer to medium and add boiling syrup to egg whites while mixer is running. Increase speed back to high and continue to whisk until meringue is cooled to room temperature (about 5-7 minutes).

Once meringue is completely cooled, with mixer on medium speed, add softened butter 1/2 Tbsp at a time until all butter is added. Continue to whisk until the mixture coalesces into a smooth butter cream. Add Jack Daniels and whisk until smooth.

Pipe onto cookies.

1 comment:

  1. Oh. My. God. Greg. These sound delicious! You MUST save one for me!