Got To Be NC
Recipe by: Lisa Prince

Hot Toddy Pecan Bars

Beth Matheson from Cary took home first place in the Karo Sweet-Treats for Sweet-Hearts Contest at the NC State Fair this year with these delicious pecan bars. They are a mini pecan pie with the sweet surprise of orange zest.

Servings: 12
Cook Time: Prep Time: 30 minutes; Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Meal Type: Dessert
NC Ingredients: Pecans

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Ingredients

Orange Shortbread Crust:
1
½ cups flour
1/4
cup sugar
1/4
tsp. salt
1
Tbsp. orange zest
1/2
cup butter
1
egg
Whiskey Pecan Filling:
1/2
cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3/4
cup packed light brown sugar
1/4
cup light KARO corn syrup
3
Tbsp. whiskey
1/4
cup heavy cream
1/4
tsp. salt
2
cups coarsely chopped pecans
Optional Candied Orange Curl garnish:
1/2
cup granulated sugar
1/2
cup water
Zest of one orange

Directions

Orange Shortbread Crust:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line an 8X8 baking pan with aluminum foil. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, orange zest and salt to combine.  Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg; pulse just until dough forms. Transfer dough to prepared pan; with floured fingers and press the dough into the bottom of the pan in a single uniform layer. Place the pan into the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove from freezer and prick the bottom of the dough with a fork or toothpick. Then bake for 22 to 25 minutes.

Whiskey Pecan Filling:

In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly until smooth. Continue boiling without stirring until lightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream, whiskey and salt. Then stir in pecans.

To assemble and bake: Spoon hot filling evenly over crust, using spoon to arrange and press in nuts so they fit snugly (create as flat a surface as possible). Bake until bubbling and amber colored, 18-22 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.

Using foil, lift bars from pan; peel off foil.  Cut crosswise into 4 even strips; cut each strip into even rectangles to make 12-16 bars. For bite-size portions, cut into 32 two inch cubes.

Optional Candied Orange Curl garnish:

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Add zest of 1 orange (peeled into long strips with a vegetable peeler); simmer, swirling occasionally, until zest is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a plate. Dredge zest in sugar and thinly slice.