Prior to going down to Florida, I spent an evening in my kitchen. I knew that I wanted to bring something sweet to eat for Scott (in lieu of his birthday which is at the end of the month). As he is partial to chocolate-y, caramel-y, pecan goodness, I decided to improvise a kind of turtle-like thing.
Now, I am not sure where all of this new found kitchen confidence has come from. I do pretty well with a recipe, and frankly, I hesitate to venture into baking without one. There is something comforting about going to a recipe and following directions (and gives you something to blame when it doesn’t come out well). But I had been thinking about how to concoct these little treats for a couple of weeks now and figured if I could deconstruct the layers I could come up with something pretty good.
It’s basically a layer of shortbread, a layer of caramel-bourbon sauce, a layer of pecans and topped off with a layer of ganache. To say that I am pleased with how they came out would be an understatement. The verdict? Damn good, if I say so myself. Especially since I just made them up on the fly.
Bourbon Caramel Pecan Bars
Layer 1: The Shortbread
Using the food processor, measure 1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
and 12 (twelve!) tablespoons of butter
Pulse until dough is mixed through and crumbly.
Press into the bottom of a 9 x 9 glass baking pan. (No need to butter, given the aforementioned 12 T of butter in the dough).
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
Layer 2: Bourbon Caramel Sauce
In a medium-sized pot, measure 1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
and 1/4 cup water.
Bring to a boil.
And cook until it turns a dark golden brown.
This was after about 5 minutes…
And I took it off the heat after about 8 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup heavy cream (and stand back – this will bubble up furiously).
and 4 tablespoons of butter.
Because I was making things up, I went ahead and added a couple of tablespoons of bourbon. (If this recipe has a secret ingredient, this would be it).
Add about 1/3 cup flour to thicken up the caramel sauce.
Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped pecans on top of the caramel layer.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and caramel is bubbling.
Layer 3: Chocolate ganache
Simmer 1/2 cup heavy cream in a small sauce pan.
Take off heat and stir in 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips until melted.
Pour over caramel layer.
Top with additional pecan pieces and let set for (at least) a couple of hours.
I dutifully cut them up, wrapped them in cupcake wrappers and boxed them up to take with me to the Sunshine State.
These are not for the faint of heart. Or those on a diet. I even got them approved by Scott (who is a tough customer).
Not too shabby for being recipe-less.