In the Cookie Jar

In the Cookie Jar: Pecan Squares

Oh my. 

Think pecan pie.  Think candy.  Think cookies.  Now put them all in a jar and shake it up and you’ve got these delectable morsels.

Start out with a batch of  short dough.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.

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Roll out the short dough and line the pan with it.  You may need to cut and paste pieces of dough to completely fill the pan, but that’s perfectly fine.  No one’s going to see it anyway.

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Okay, now bake this at 425 F until golden, about 10 minutes or so, depending on your oven. 

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Set aside and allow to cool.  Drop the oven temp down to 350 F.

While the short dough crust is baking and cooling, go ahead and assemble the following:

1 lb unsalted butter

4 oz granulated sugar

12 oz honey

1 lb brown sugar

2 lb pecan pieces

4 oz heavy cream

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You’ll also need a candy thermometer on hand.  And a large, heavy sauce pot.

A word of caution – we’re going to be bringing a lot of sugar to the boil – PLEASE be aware that boiling sugar can give you some of the worst possible kitchen burns possible.  The sugar will start to cool (it’s a relative term – it won’t FEEL cool) when it hits to your skin, and it will STICK to you and the part that’s touching your skin will still be extremely hot and will just hang on and burn, burn, burn.  If you splatter boiling sugar on yourself while you’re making this recipe, IMMEDIATELY run or pour cold water on the sugar on your skin and get the sugar off of you as fast as you can.

Okay?  But don’t let that deter you – it’s kind of fun to boil sugar, just so long as you have a healthy respect for what it can do.

Put the butter, granulated sugar, honey, and brown sugar in your sauce pot. 

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Set the flame on high and bring the mixture to a boil.  It will take a while for everything to first melt

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and then heat up,

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and at some point it will seem to you that the temperature will never go high enough,

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but just be patient,

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and keep an eye on your candy thermometer.

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You want to bring the boiling sugar up to 257 F.  When you reach that temp, add the pecans and the heavy cream, stir it around and shut off the heat.

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Stir some more to make sure everything is well combined, and then pour it into the pan on top of your short dough crust. 

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(I was using a really deep pot, and I had two pans to fill…and I wanted to be able to tilt the pan without burning myself and distribute the pecan mixture evenly and quickly between the two pans.  So this is what I rigged up.  I’ve got another pot upside down in between the two pans.  I have a damp cloth on top of that pan so the hot pan of sugary goodness won’t slip.)

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(And oh, would you look at that lovely mess of dish towels and Alex’s socks there on the floor.  Hmmm…apparently the maid went home early that day.)

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Bake in the oven for at least 20 minutes, or until the pecan mixture is bubbling and the top is semi-firm.  I think it took mine at least 30 minutes, but my oven runs cold, and also I was making two pans at once.  And I kept peeking.

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Allow to cool completely.

When you’re ready to cut this enormous cookie into pieces, run a knife along the edges of the pan that aren’t covered by parchment paper.  Very gently, begin to tug at the parchment along the edges of the pan to loosen the product from the pan.  The cooked and cooled sugar will make it stick.  Be patient.  I’ve ripped plenty of parchment paper in the process.  Once you’ve loosened the edges, the rest should go smoothly – just tilt the pan and tug on the lower end of the pan until the whole thing slides out onto your work surface.

You can cut this up any way you want.  This year I cut small squares no bigger than an inch on a side because the little paper candy cups I had on hand wouldn’t hold anything bigger.  I had wanted to cut out little circles, but my smallest round cookie cutter wasn’t deep enough and kept getting stuck.

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Keep in mind all the butter and sugars and honey and nuts are very rich in combination and you don’t need enormous portions.  If you want more, just have another one.  After all, they’re so small….

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