Pecan bars with a shortbread-style crust and absolutely loaded with nuts!
I was less than two weeks removed from eating the last piece of pecan pie from Thanksgiving when I came across this recipe and I wasted no time grabbing my stash of pecans and getting to work. One of the first baking recipes that I made on my own was chocolate chip pecan pie bars – they are very much like pecan pie (with chocolate chips) in bar form. They are, incidentally, utterly fantastic. These ultranutty pecan bars are way heavier on the pecans than on the filling, so if you’re a big fan of pecans but not so much the super-sweet pie filling, these will be right up your alley.
These bars could not possibly be any easier to make. The crust is mixed by hand, pressed into the pan and doesn’t need to be par-baked – score! A quick whisk of the filling ingredient, folding in the pecans and… boom, done. There’s just enough of a filling to give you the characteristic taste of pecan pie without being overpowering or too sweet. These bars are ALL about the pecans!
And let’s not forget about the fleur de sel that’s sprinkled on the bars immediately after they come out of the oven. Each bite has a little salty crunch that’s a perfect sidekick to the pecans.
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough begins to form. Using your hands, continue to combine until no dry flour remains and a small portion of dough holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Evenly scatter tablespoon-size pieces of dough over the surface of the pan. Using your fingertips, press and smooth dough into even layer in the bottom of the pan; set aside.
Make the Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth and completely incorporated. Fold the pecans into the sugar mixture until the nuts are evenly coated.
Pour the pecan topping over the crust and, using a rubber spatula, spread the topping over the crust, working it to the edges and into corners (there will be bare patches). Bake until the topping is evenly distributed and rapidly bubbling across entire surface, 23 to 25 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and lightly sprinkle with flake sea salt, if using. Let bars cool completely in the pan, about 1½ hours. Cut into 24 bars and serve. The bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.