A few days after I made the delicious strawberry cake (see post below) - I had quite a bit of heavy cream left over. I found this recipe at Cookie Madness which called for making your own caramel! YIKES! I had never done that before, but I was up for the challenge! I watched my sugar like a hawk, which I'm sure made it take longer - and it did seem like it took forever for the sugar to start melting... and even longer to incorporate the heavy cream... BUT - let me tell you - it came out perfect the first time, and even more importantly, it was SO worth it! Talk about addicting. Pecans. Caramel. All on top of a tender, buttery crust.
What more could a girl want!?
Pecan Caramel Bar Cookies
Original full batch recipe at Epicurious. This recipe, slightly modified.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted cooled, and coarsely chopped
Line a 9x13 inch square metal pan with foil (I used Reynolds Release foil) and spray foil with cooking spray.
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in egg and vanilla, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
Press dough into bottom of pan and chill for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When dough is chilled, bake it for about 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden. Let it cool on a rack while you make the pecan topping.
Cook sugar in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until sugar is melted to a deep golden caramel. Tilt pan and carefully pour in cream (caramel will harden and steam vigorously - be careful!). Cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is dissolved - this will take a while, keep mashing and stirring that caramel until cream is incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, salt, and pecans.
Quickly spread topping over cooled crust and bake until bubbling, about 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Grasp foil, lift bars from pan and cut into triangles or squares. Enjoy!