Honey-Pecan Bars

Posted by on Dec 23, 2011 in Farm Blog, Farm Recipes | 43 comments

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.

Honey-Pecan Bars

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.

A sweet nutty layer above, and an almond shortbread-like crust below...

The only slight caveat is that one batch may not be enough!

Honey-Pecan Bars

Yield: 32-64 Bars…it all depends on how you cut them!

Ingredients

Crust

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

Honey-Nut Topping

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

Equipment:

Parchment Paper
Spray Oil
9″ x 13″ Baking Pan

Directions

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.

Finely ground whole almonds and 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.

Cube the butter before adding to the flour

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.

The dough will appear a little dry. Just empty it into the prepared pan.

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.

The dough will quickly come together as it's pressed into the pan

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.

Docking the dough will prevent it from puffing up while it bakes

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.

Don't skip the toasting step, you want the nuts to be crisp, not soggy

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.

Honey, light brown sugar, butter, and salt

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.  Continuing to stir, add the heavy cream, and return the mixture to the boil.

After the mixture boils, add the heavy cream

Remove the honey mixture from the heat.

Roughly chop the toasted nuts, and stir into the honey mixture, coating the nuts thoroughly.

Rough chop the pecans before adding to the honey mixture, this will make the bars easier to slice

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.

Pour the honey-pecan mixture over the crust, and spread evenly

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.

Invert the pan onto a cutting board to release the slab

Place another cutting board on the slab, and invert to flip right-side-up.

Re-invert the slab using a second cutting board to turn 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.

The honey-nut mixture sets up beautifully, and won't ooze like some caramel does

We recently took these to a Bee Guild holiday potluck, and brought home not one, but TWO empty plates!

Oh crumbs! Looks like we'll have to refill Santa's plate...

Be warned Santa, if you don’t get here soon, the Curbstone Valley elves may eat them…all!

Happy Holidays!

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!

Enjoy!

43 Comments

  1. Clare these look amazing and remind me of sticky buns..will have to give these a whirl!!
    Donna@Gardens Eye View´s last post…Spirit of the Season

    • Oh…sticky buns, those are dangerous! Well, these bars may not be quite as good, but they are much easier, and less messy, to eat, and still scrumptious! :P

  2. This treat is worthy of my recently-received, super-awesome pecans from Georgia. I will make them and eat the entire batch — diet starts Jan 2.
    Tom @ Tall Clover Farm´s last post…Shining Light on Winter’s Darkest Day

    • I bet your super-awesome pecans from Georgia will make these bars that much more special! I’m with you, no diets until 2012 ;) Enjoy!

  3. Grateful that my Agapanthus don’t have to battle deer. Your recipe tempts this non-baker to start again. Happy Christmas – and may your bees have a good, better year ahead.
    Elephant’s Eye´s last post…Solstice wildflowers for Christmas

    • Non-baker? I’m sure we could fix that with the right recipe :) I’m hoping to make a lot more of these with our own honey next year!

  4. Your bees must be very proud, a great use of their industrious work. I love this time of year with all the sweet, sticky treats. Thanks for the recipe, it is one I will surly try. I hope you and your family (critters too) have a wonderful holiday season and a healthy, happy New Year.
    Donna´s last post…Simply Decorated Christmas Trees

    • These will taste better with our own honey, I’m sure. This year though we left all the honey with the bees, they seemed to need it much more than us. Next year though I’m hoping they have a little extra to share ;) Happy holidays!

  5. So good to have homemade festive treats which makes the occasion more special. Wishing you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2012!
    Autumn Belle´s last post…Merry Christmas, Winter Solstice 2011 and Happy New Year 2012!

    • Homemade treats, for us, is a big part of the season’s celebration. Quality goodies, crafted from quality ingredients. Now I’m just hoping my clothes were made with quality waistbands :P Merry Christmas!

  6. Oh, these look good! I’ll have to go on a diet now after just looking at them! :) I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!
    Holleygarden´s last post…Merry Christmas

    • Bah, humbug…no diets…not yet, that’s what New Year’s is for. Besides, I have one more deadly treat coming up next week, just in time for New Year’s Eve…stay tuned! ;)

  7. Now all I can think of is pecan pie, but this is a definite alternative; my favorites_ honey and pecans.

    I thought of you while making our squash (Galeux) gnocchi last evening; they were delicious.

    Merry Christmas, Clare! May 2012 be filled with many blessings.
    Diana´s last post…Merry Christmas

    • You know, I’m actually not a fan of most pecan pies, I find them too sweet. I like these because they’re not sickly sweet, but I still get my pecan fix :)

      So glad you made the gnocchi. I found our Galeux to be quite watery, but drained for a while it worked just fine in pasta. I can’t wait to make more, and maybe some ravioli too!

  8. Those look so good! I never knew the term “docking”, learned something new today! I wish I could take one out of the picture to try!

    • It’s possible my Brit is showing through, but I’ve always called it docking. Either way, it really does help to get that crust to stay put while it bakes. If I could pass one of these bars through the blog to you I would! Happy holidays!

  9. Clare,
    These sound easy to make and should be very tasty. Now if I could find some pecans and parchment paper.

    • If you don’t have pecans, you might be able to substitute walnuts instead. For parchment, you could try lining a pan with foil (I’d run it up the sides of the pan), mist with oil, and then you could lift the whole slab from the pan. My only concern is you’d have to be careful peeling it away from the honey-nut topping, but it should work, providing the bars are completely cooled.

  10. How could I forget have a warm and wonderful Christmas and happy New Year!!

    • Merry Christmas!

  11. Clare, Could you please send the Curbstone Valley elves out to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to make honey pecan bars for me? We are making pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake for the family celebration but these bars look so good. I remember very clearly when I first started blogging and I saw your mouth-watering recipes and gorgeous photos. Glad to be here a year later. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Carolyn
    Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens´s last post…Havahart® This Holiday Season

    • Thank you Carolyn, I’ll see if I can find a spare elf around here somewhere ;) Merry Christmas!

  12. P.S. Please see my reply to your comment with a woodchuck removal method for your mom.
    Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens´s last post…Havahart® This Holiday Season

  13. Yummy! Merry Christmas, Clare, and thanks for helping to make my visits to the blogosphere educational, inspirational, and fun!
    debsgarden´s last post…A Christmas Wish

    • Merry Christmas Deborah, thank you for all your support this year! :)

  14. Yum, and such clear step by step directions, love it.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and all the best for 2012.
    Deborah at Kilbourne Grove´s last post…Merry Christmas

    • I don’t want people who don’t feel comfortable in the kitchen not to try these. I’m hoping that with clear instructions some of my kitchen-challenged friends will still try them…they’re soooo worth it ;) Merry Christmas!

  15. They look yummy! Hope you and your loved ones have a happy peaceful Christmas.
    Bridget´s last post…Happy Christmas from Prospect Cottage.

    • Bridget, they were very yummy…but the elves might have to bake another batch for Santa :P Ooops. Merry Christmas!

  16. Your bars look delicious. When you have finished with those elves pack them in a box and send them over to me! Better still take out the elves and fill the box with bars :-)
    Have a Happy Christmas and best wishes for the coming year!
    easygardener´s last post…Blooming Friday – Christmas

    • Haha! I think you’re on to something, shipping the bars will probably be more cost-effective than shipping elves :P Merry Christmas!

  17. Dear Clare

    I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and very happy holidays!

    With love & best wishes
    Christine
    Christine @ The Gardening Blog´s last post…Merry Christmas!

    • Merry Christmas Christine! I’m sure yours will be warmer than ours ;)

  18. oh Clare, these look divine. I was reading and mentally checking what’s in my cupboards to see if I could make these yet today (still baking to end!). We dove into some local honey this morning (comparing regular flavour to creamed blueberry, split decision) luckily just enough left over from our feast. Thanks for this recipe and have a wonderful Christmas.
    Marguerite´s last post…Merry Christmas Everyone!

    • Let us know how they turn out for you if you make them! I agree, there’s nothing like local honey, and I love creamed honey, but that’s what I grew up with. Merry Christmas!

  19. Dear Clare, Merry Christmas! Your pecan bars look delicious! Wishing you a peaceful and joyful holiday and all the best in the New Year! I hope to visit more in 2012. I have missed you, your wonderful farm and posts . . . fun videos too. Peace Carol
    Carolflowerhill´s last post…Merry Christmas!

    • Merry Christmas Carol, I’ve been a bit behind on blog visiting too. Will try to do better in the New Year :)

  20. Clare,

    I made these tonight, after the girls made ginger cookies. These are delicious! Meg told me to print the recipe, I ran out of paper as it printed all 23 comments and all your side links… I think I’ll do a shorter recipe and stick it in our cookbook. The first layer took a long time to turn golden brown and it seemed like roasting the pecans took forever to do. Used local honey but not ours as we have not harvested any yet.
    Randy´s last post…Merry Christmas and Happy New Years

    • Your kitchen must look like ours…I just got through making a batch of double ginger cookies!

      Sorry about the printing. I’ll have a hunt around WordPress and see if there’s a recipe printing widget I can install that just prints the text of the recipe. I think Dave at Happy Acres has something like that installed.

      The crust doesn’t have to get very golden. Just a tinge on the edges, it’s more important that the dough loses that wet look in the center, but it doesn’t get completely golden on the first bake. So glad you’re enjoying them though! Pecans are tricky to toast, as they’re already dark, it can be a challenge to tell when they’re done. I sometimes throw a couple extra in the pan for a taste test when I think they’re done.

      Like you, I can’t wait to try some of our own honey. Just checked the bees today (just their feeder, too chilly for much of a look) as it was warmer this afternoon and they were out and about flying around. Our two feral hives seem to be doing really well so far, and we saw lots of pollen coming in too! Merry Christmas!

  21. These look delicious! I have a similar recipe that I love, too. I read this article tonight and thought of you: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/in-search-of-a-better-bee/2011/11/07/gIQA5e3RLP_story.html

    It’s about scientists who have created a varroa mite resistant bee. Do you think it’s a positive advance or have they created a Frankenbee?

    • Varroa resistant queens have been around for a while, but they’re expensive. Personally I think queens such as these will be essential for commercial beekeepers. Varroa isn’t going away. We’ve now lost both of our commercially produced Italian colonies. Sustaining weak colonies with a chemical arsenal isn’t sustainable, for the bees, or the commercial beekeepers. Even we have seriously considered VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) stock queens.

      We’re (attempting) to do something similar here, with our few hives. Both our colonies that died out this winter were packages, from commercial apiaries, but our two surviving (so far) colonies are much more robust, and where sourced from a long-established feral colony. They seem much more tolerant of mites at least, and as such, in spring we’ll divide any of the surviving colonies to select from our healthiest queens. Hopefully, over time, we’ll be selecting for colonies that are the best adapted to living here, and better able to cope with Varroa.

  22. So Clare, I’d made a batch, split it, ate one, served the other. If I’m going to put on pounds before the first, it has to be worth it. And these pecan bars are worth it! Thanks for sharing the delicious and easy recipe. Tom
    Tom @ Tall Clover Farm´s last post…Jonny Awesome and His Truck of Trees

    • Great Tom! So glad you liked them! I’ve been resisting making another batch for the New Year…I’m soooo tempted. That’s the trouble with these bars, if you make them, they’re gone in the blink of an eye :P