Tea time, coffee time or anytime, these pecan bars are just perfect.
Why are pecans so popular? Apart from being tasty, they are also very healthy. Pecans contain antioxidants which aid in the prevention of heart disease.
They are also extremely versatile and can be turned into some delicious treats such as pies, candy, cakes, slices and cookies.
There are many different ways of using pecans, but here are two bar cookie recipes featuring pecans which provide very different taste sensations.
The first has a caramel topping filled with chopped pecans while the other has a maple syrup flavored topping.
Both delicious and very appetizing.
But before you go out and buy some pecans to make these pecan bars you need to know how to buy them and how to store them.
Pecans should be purchased in the shell as they turn rancid much more quickly than other nuts. The shells should be uncracked and blemish free. Look for pecans that are uniform in color and size. Buy the ones in the sealed packets and check the expiry date.
Unshelled pecans will keep for up to 12 months in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Once shelled, store them in the refrigerator in a sealed container with a tight fitting lid. Shelled pecans can be stored in the refrigerator for about 9 months and in the freezer for up to 2 years. Pecans can also be frozen unshelled.
Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Grease an 18cm x 28 cm / 7 x 11 inch baking tin and line base and sides with baking paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in butter using fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. This can be done in a food processor.
Add the lightly beaten egg and mix until the mixture becomes a soft dough. If using a food processor, mix until the dough begins to form a ball, being careful not to overmix the dough.
Using your fingertips, press the dough evenly into the base of the tin. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the dough evenly with the chopped nuts.
To make the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Remove from the heat and add the golden syrup, sugar and flour. Stir until the mixture is smooth and pour over the nuts, making sure it is spread evenly.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool. The caramel topping will be soft when first taken out of the oven, but will set as it cools.
When cool, remove from the tin and cut into squares.
Makes about 20 - 24
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F and grease a 20 x 30 cm / 8 x 12 inch tin with a little butter and line with baking paper.
Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until well combined. Sift in the flour and mix it all together until it forms a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and gently knead the dough.
Press the dough into the base of the prepared tin, using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the base to cool.
To make the topping, place the butter, sugar, maple syrup and milk into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted. Be very careful not to burn the butter.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the beaten eggs and pecans. Pour the topping over the base. Bake in the oven for a further 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the center still slightly soft.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Leave the cookie bar in the tin and allow to cool completely.
To serve cut into squares and drizzle with a little extra maple syrup if desired.
These pecan bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Pecans can be substituted by other nuts. Although walnuts most closely resemble pecans, they can also be substituted by peanuts, pistachios, cashews and macadamia nuts, depending on the recipe.