Anyone who has been to New Orleans is probably familiar with the praline, a sweet, buttery confection studded with pecans. In this very old recipe from the Big Easy, it’s been merged with a crisp brown shortbread crust, for something that may remind you of pecan pie. The thin bars with their carefully arranged nuts are just as nice to look at as eat.
Recipe note: The baked bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or frozen for several months. Separate the layers with wax paper.
FOR THE BASE
8 tablespoons (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (220 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups (255 grams/9 ounces) large pecan halves
FOR THE TOPPING
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks/170 grams) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (75 grams) packed light brown sugar
Make the base: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan (with at least 2-inch sides) with a piece of foil large enough to cover the bottom and sides. Press in the foil so it’s as smooth as possible. Do not butter it.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and mix on low until the ingredients form tiny crumbs that will hold together when you press the mixture between your fingers, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and spread to form a level layer, pressing down to compact it.
Cover the base with the pecan halves touching each other, flat sides down, all in the same direction.
Make the topping: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the butter and sugar, stirring with a spatula, until the mixture comes to a hard boil all over the surface. Continue to stir for 30 more seconds, then remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot mixture over the pecans, trying to coat the entire surface.
Bake for 22 minutes, until the butter and sugar caramelize and start to solidify around the nuts. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Cover the pan with a baking sheet and invert the slab onto the sheet, removing the pan and then the foil. Re-invert the slab onto a cutting board and cut it into 32 or more thin strips. (Small squares are nice, too.) Let the bars to come to room temperature before serving.
Adapted from “Maida Heatter’s Brand-New Book of Great Cookies” by Maida Heatter (Random House, 1995).
Tested by Sophia Nguyen; email questions to email@example.com.
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More from Voraciously:
Calories: 180; Total Fat: 13 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 20 mg; Sodium: 10 mg; Carbohydrates: 15 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 8 g; Protein: 2 g.