Friday, August 14, 2009
Brown Sugar Pecan Sticky Bars
Seattle has been experiencing a bit of cool weather lately, which is such a nice change from the super hot weather we had just a week ago. This cloudy, rainy weather that we have been having has fooled me into thinking that it’s fall. I’m sure that summer isn’t gone completely, but I’ve definitely been drifting towards recipes that feel like fall.
I was looking through my cookbooks to pick today’s recipe and I noticed that this recipe was already bookmarked. I’m not exactly sure who bookmarked it (I’m guessing my husband since I don’t remember them) or when, but it just looked like what I wanted to make. Sticky buns make me think of a rainy day when I have all day to stay home and bake, and these have similar flavors so I thought I would give them a try.
I’ve seen similar recipes, but the base of this bar cookie is quite complex, with oats, pecans, and coconut. The recipe has you soak the oats in hot water, which is suppose softens the oats somewhat. It would be interesting to try this without soaking the oats. The base of these cookies is quite soft, a lot softer than I expected. Most of the bar cookies that I made have more of a shortbread base, so this is quite different.
The topping is what makes these so good! Making your own caramel can be tricky, and if you don’t pay attention, you can have a big, burned sugar mess in no time flat. This one was very simple and turned out perfectly. Brown a little butter and pecans, stir in brown sugar and cream and boil for 2 minutes. It makes a beautiful thick, sticky caramel. It does take a little while to set, so you just have to have some patience before you cut them into bars. They are so good and certainly live up to their “sticky” name. You may want to cut them into larger bars and serve them with a fork, since they are so messy. I’ll take a little mess for such a good cookie.
1 cup oats
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/3 cups flour
1 cup chopped pecans
¾ cup coconut
¾ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ cup heavy cream
2-1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” pan with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, combine the oats with ¼ cup of hot water. Stir to combine and set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and salt. Beat on medium speed until well blended and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined. Add the flour and the oat mixture and mix until combined. Fold in the pecans and the coconut. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping.
To make the topping, combine the ¾ cup chopped pecans and the ¼ cup butter in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, or until the butter is lightly browned. Be careful and make sure that the butter doesn’t burn. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the brown sugar, salt and heavy cream. Return the mixture to a boil and boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Immediately spread the topping evenly over the still-warm crust. Let stand until completely cooled. Cut into bars with a warm knife.
Recipe from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett