Friday, 12 December 2014

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Recently there's been some baking fails around here! It started with me wanting to make peppermint patties, because it's not Christmas without a peppermint overload and since we can't get peppermint patties over here in the shops I wanted to make my own! There were tons of recipes all calling for coconut oil, which I didn't have, which I'm ashamed to admit because hello I'm the queen of coconut?! but with no coconut oil in sight I settled on a recipe using just condensed milk...well apparently there's a reason all those other recipes called for coconut oil - my patties did not set at all! So became a gooey mess! Next up I tried to make candy cane truffles to take to a Christmas party, again using condensed milk...and again they didn't set - why do you hate me condensed milk?! 

The third baking fail in the space of 2 weeks came from a chocolate pecan pie we tried to make for thanksgiving and we had a pastry when I decided I wanted to bake something for a friend from church who was having some health problems I asked her teenage sons what her favourite dessert was (she has an American husband so I was expecting something red velvet, or s'mores, or peanut butter like) and immediately they responded with pecan pie!!! You can imagine me groaning on the inside!

I can bake most things with zero problems, but pecan pie? Out of all the things she could want!

Fortunately I found this amazing recipe for pecan pie bars, where all you had to do was rub some flour, sugar and butter together to whip up your pastry and then press it down into your square tin - easy peasy! This was a pecan pie I could handle!

Think making caramel is hard? think again! You whip up this salted caramel straight in the microwave - easy peasy take 2! 

Chop up some pecans, pour the caramel on top, bake and drizzle with copious amounts of chocolate! 

What can go wrong? Nothing!!! Thank goodness, so finally I had a baking win! which is awesome because with Christmas right around the corner I'm about to go into baking overdrive and I have no more time for failures!

So if you love pecans, chocolate and salted caramel and want a tasty no fail treat then these are your guys!

Salted Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars:
Makes 16 small or 9 large
Adapted from Averie Cooks

for the crust:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of salt

for the filling:
8 ozs roasted pecan halves
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (approx 140g)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup double cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

for the drizzle:
50g dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with tin foil, grease with a small amount of butter and don't skip this step otherwise it will not be easy to get your bars out.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar cornstarch and salt.  Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers.  The mixture will go sandy, continue rubbing in until everything starts to come together.

Break pastry into clumps and pat them down into the prepared baking tin, using a spatula or I used my hands.

Chop pecans in half, and sprinkle over the pastry base.

Chop chocolate into small chunks and sprinkle over the pecans.

In a large microwavable safe bowl, combine the butter, sugar, double cream, vanilla and salt.  Heat on high power for 1 minute.

Remove bowl from microwave and whisk until mixture is smooth.

Return bowl to microwave for another minute on high power.

Remove bowl from microwave and whisk again.  Whisk in the vanilla and salt.

Slowly, and evenly pour the caramel mixture over the pecans and chocolate ensuring most of the filling is covered.

Bake for 28-30 minutes.  When your bars are ready the caramel will be vigorously bubbling away around the edges of the pan and the middle of the pan will be bubbling to a lesser extent.

Allow bars to cool in the pan for 3 hours, or overnight (ensuring you cover pan with clingfilm and put in an airtight container - not in the fridge).

Once cooled, add chocolate and vegetable oil to a small microwaveable bowl and heat in 30 second bursts.  The chocolate should all be melted by about 1 minute 30.  Pour into a piping bag and drizzle diagonally in both directions.

They will then be ready to slice and serve.

Eat and enjoy!


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