The elves are always busy at Curbstone Valley this time of year, whipping up a flurry of tasty baked holiday treats!
During the hectic days leading up to the holiday it’s always helpful to have a simple recipe, or two on hand, that can produce lots of bite-sized nibbles for entertaining. Keeping a batch of these in the kitchen, you’ll always be ready for those unexpected friends and neighbors to drop in.
These Honey-Pecan bite-sized bars are simple to make. With a tender and flaky shortbread-like crust, and sweet, but not too sweet honey-nut top, they’re easy to eat, and guaranteed to be a big hit at any holiday get-together.
The only slight caveat is that one batch may not be enough!
Yield: 32-64 Bars…it all depends on how you cut them!
1/2 Cup Whole Almonds, toasted
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2-1/2 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Level Tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Table Salt
12 Tbs. Cold Unsalted Butter
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
3 Cups Pecan Halves
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
6 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
1/3 Cup Honey (support your neighborhood beekeeper, use local honey!)
1/2 Level Tsp. Table Salt
2 Tbs. Heavy Cream
9″ x 13″ Baking Pan
Preheat Oven to 350 F
Mist a 9×13-inch baking pan with spray oil, and line with parchment, trimmed to fit the bottom of the pan.
Prepare The Crust
In a food processor, finely grind the almonds with the sugar.
Sift the baking powder and salt into the flour, stir, and add the flour mixture to the almond and sugar mix. Pulse briefly to combine.
Cut the butter into half-inch cubes, as this will allow for even distribution, and add the butter to the flour mixture.
Pulse at one-second intervals, 6-8 times, until the butter pieces are pea-sized.
Add the beaten egg, and pulse until the dough just begins to clump together. Don’t worry, the mixture will still look a little dry.
Using your fingertips, or the back of a spoon, press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan, being sure to get the corners.
Dock the dough all over with a fork, and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden around the edges, and the center of the dough looks dry.
Place the baking pan on a cooling rack, and set aside while you make the topping.
To Make the Topping
Lightly toast 3 cups of pecan halves in a dry skillet set over medium-low heat. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the oils in the nuts from scorching.
Set aside to cool.
Place 6 Tbsp of butter, the honey, light brown sugar, and salt, into a medium saucepan, and set over medium-high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continuing to stir, add the heavy cream, and return the mixture to the boil.
Remove the honey mixture from the heat.
Roughly chop the toasted nuts, and stir into the honey mixture, coating the nuts thoroughly.
Pour the mixture over the prepared crust, and spread with a spatula to cover evenly. Tilting the pan slightly will help to spread the liquid to the edges.
Bake in the center of the oven for 18-20 minutes until the topping is slowly bubbling in the middle of the pan. Remove, and set the pan on a cooling rack.
To Slice The Bars
The bars must be completely cool before cutting. First run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the nut mixture from the sides of the pan.
Place a large plate or cutting board over the top of the pan, and invert the slab. The parchment allows the crust to release easily.
Place another cutting board on the slab, and invert to flip right-side-up.
Cut the slab in half length-wise using a heavy, sharp, kitchen knife. Then cut each half into 8 large bars (to yield 16 total). Cut each of these bars into four equal pieces, to yield 64 bite-sized bars.
We recently took these to a Bee Guild holiday potluck, and brought home not one, but TWO empty plates!
Be warned Santa, if you don’t get here soon, the Curbstone Valley elves may eat them…all!
Wishing all of our family, friends, and readers, both near and far, all the peace, love, and joy of the holiday season, and throughout the upcoming New Year!