Boozy Bourbon Pecan Bars

I've always liked pecan pie. My problem with most recipes though is that there is too much filling, making them overly sweet and overly rich. These pecan bars have a thin pastry crust with a thin layer of nuts and bourbon caramel. Perfect.

This recipe is adapted from several I found online that seem to have originated from a Martha Stewart recipe which I can't seem to track down. I made these bars in 2 quarter sheet pans so I could have one version with chocolate and one without, the recipe reflects this approach. I love chocolate, my husband, unfortunately, is not a fan. We both agree on these bars. Whether you use chocolate or not, they are not only delicious (the sweet is tempered by the salty and the bourbon) but down right addictive.

Boozy Bourbon Pecan Bars

Ingredients for Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 egg

Ingredients for Topping
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz pecans
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line your sheet pans with aluminum foil. Make your crust by pulsing the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and continue to pulse until you've got some coarse nubs, then add your egg and pulse until just combined and the dough forms.

Divide your pastry equally between the two pans and spread it out into an even layer. I mashed it down with my fingers a touch then used a rolling pin to even it out. Prick the crust with a fork, then freeze the pans for 15 minutes or so to get the butter solid again and firm those babies up.

Bake at 375 F until golden brown, 15-20 minutes, then set aside to cool while you make the pecan topping.

In a saucepan, bring the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil, whisking it to get it nice and smooth. Then remove your whisk and let it boil for another minute or two until the caramel darkens a little.

Remove the saucepan from the heat then whisk in the cream, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Once that is nicely combined, add your pecans and stir to combine.

*A note on pecans. I had this plan that I would leave most of the halves intact. It left for a pretty bar, but not as even coverage of pecans as if I had roughly chopped the entire 8 oz. You may do as you wish.

Sprinkle half the chocolate chips on one of the baked crusts, then spoon the hot pecan mixture over both crusts making as even a layer as possible. Use the remaining chocolate chips on top of the pecan filling that now has begun melting the chocolate underneath.

Bake at 375 until bubbling and the smell of bourbony caramel has filled your home, about 15 minutes.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan, then, using the foil, lift the bars off the pan and pop into the fridge to firm up a little more and make it easier to peel and cut. After about 30 minutes, peel off the foil and slice into bars. Since these are thin, I like to make ample squares or rectangles. I got about 12 from each tray.

A couple of the bars with the chocolate chips added.

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