Even though the craziness of December is over for another year, I promised in early January that I would continue to post some of my favorite holiday cookie and candy recipes. I figured (incorrectly of course) that if I wrote down the recipes and shared them with all of you, my urge to continue baking and eating sweet treats would diminish. (Fat lot of good it’s done so far, but it made a lot of sense at the time!) Anyway, I made the promise and I am going to abide by it! So even though some of you may not have fully recovered from what I call the “baking frenzy” month, (commonly known to most as December), I’m hoping you will enjoy receiving these recipe none-the-less. (Think of them as early preparations for this year’s holiday season.) I personally think it’s a good idea. After all, if stores can start selling Christmas decorations in August, I see no reason why you can’t start gathering holiday recipes the first day of February. (Something to brag about to your acquaintances who routinely have their Christmas shopping done weeks in advance.) You know, the people for whom “Black Friday” is sacred and who would rather cut off their big toe than miss the opportunity to save 10% on a $30 item at 4:30 in the morning! So get a jump on your holiday planning and take a look at this recipe. I promise that it is everything you could ask for in a holiday cookie.

I remember the first time I tasted one of these cookies. I was simply blown away. They were one of several goodies in the holiday cookie and candy tin given to us by our friend and neighbor Joanne. If I remember correctly, Mr. C got only one. (I do believe I restrained myself enough to allow him the pleasure of at least a taste.) I also remember getting the recipe from Joanne shortly thereafter. Thanks again Joanne.

You know, you really don’t have to wait until next Christmas to try these “pecan pie” like bar cookies. I actually believe that pecan pie is served year round in some places. New Orleans comes to mind. But then, doesn’t it always! Enjoy.

  • Crust:
  • 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Pecan Topping:
  • 1 1/4 c. (packed) brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 c. coarsely chopped pecans (about 14 ½-oz.)
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla

Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving 1-inch overhang on all sides. Lightly butter the foil. Blend flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt in processor. Add butter and process until mixture begins to clump together. Press dough evenly onto bottom of foil-lined pan. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until crust is set and a light golden color, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand while preparing topping. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile stir the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a heavy medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until sugar dissolves and mixture boils; boil 1 minute. Add pecans and cream; boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour hot topping over warm crust.

Bake for an additional 20 minutes (at 325 degrees) until caramel is darker and bubbles appear on the surface.  Cool completely in pan. (Topping will harden as it cools.) Lift foil out of pan onto a cutting board. Using a heavy sharp knife, cut bars into desired size.

Bars can be made 1 week ahead. To store, layer cut cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate. Cookies freeze beautifully.