My favorite dessert through the holiday season is cookies. I start baking before Thanksgiving and don’t stop until we are a few days into the new y ear. This year’s favorite, at this point anyway, is pecan pie bars. The crust is a buttery shortbread that melts in your mouth and is topped with crunchy pecans in a gooey caramel filling. They are easy to make and freeze well. Mine never make it to the freezer because they are the first to go whenever I serve them. I’ve gotten many requests for the recipe and I’m happy to share it.
I bought myself a little unplanned Christmas present: a Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine. This little jewel weighs only 11 pounds, has its own carrying case, and works like a charm. I was talking to my friend who owns my favorite quilt shop, Center Diamond, in Cannon Beach, and she had a friend who was selling this 1938 Featherweight machine. I didn’t even have to think about it: I bought it! It sews beautifully and now I have a portable little machine to take with me when I travel. I’m planning to move to another suburb of Portland soon and decided to use up as much fabric as I could so I didn’t have to move it. Downsizing scares the heck out of me because I have too much stuff and its going to be painful to get rid of half of it. I made polar fleece bomber hats for the kids (and a few adults) and one of a kind things like this pillowcase for my 5 year old Chicago grandson who loves the Oregon coast. I hope he likes it. All of it didn’t make a dent in my stash, but at least I started to think about “the move.”
The big news is that I’m going to finally get a little puppy. I’ve waited a long time to be ready for this commitment. My little Bichon Frise is six weeks old now and will come to live with me after I get home from my Christmas vacation in Chicago. I’ve been driving myself a little nuts trying to decide on a name. I have one picked out and I want to see if it fits him. Maybe something else will be obvious once I have him.
Happy Holiday to all. Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.
- • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- • 1 cup light corn syrup
- • 1 cup dark brown sugar
- • 5 large eggs
- • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- • 1½ teaspoons salt
- • 2 cups pecan halves (see Note)
- • 2½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- • 2½ cups all-purpose flour sifted with ½ tsp salt
- • FOR THE FILLING:
- • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over moderate heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the light corn syrup and dark brown sugar, then whisk in the eggs until thoroughly blended. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt and stir in the pecans halves until combined.
- • Pour the pecan filling into the prebaked pie bar crust and bake for about 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely. Cut into bars and serve
- • FOR THE CRUST:
- • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the sugars at medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the sifted flour and salt mixture.
- • Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the 2 long sides. Transfer the dough to the pan and press it over the bottom and 1¼ inches up the side all around. (You can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press with the bottom of a measuring cup.) Be sure the corners are not too thick. Refrigerate until firm.
- • Bake the crust for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown; halfway through baking, use the back of a spoon to smooth the sides and corners of the crust. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool before filling.