August 16, 2008

Ina's Messy-as-all-get-out Pecan Squares

These little desserts traumatized me. I mean really traumatized. As in, I must have made them months ago, and am just now feeling brave enough to tell you about them. Not to say that the end result wasn't delicious, cause it totally was, but sometimes it's more about the journey than the end result and this is a prime example.

Usually I love to bake. People are always making baking out to be more difficult than cooking savoury food, but to an extent, I would say for beginners, it's usually easier. I say that because baking is an exact science. Meaning you following directions to a "T," and there's no vague language that says things like "add salt to taste." I'm a beginner, I don't know what my taste are let alone what amount of salt would satisfy them! I can follow a recipe though, and have no problem measuring out specific amounts of salt, flour or baking soda. That being said, there's a definite line between beginner baking and full on you-must-be-a-pastry-chef-to-pull-this-off baking. I mean I'm not going to be cranking out any kind of fancy soufle any time soon, but I sure as heck thought I could make these little bites without too much of a problem. Ha - never underestimate the kind of disasters that beginners can cause in the kitchen!

To start from the beginning, I saw Ina making this and knew I had to have them. I'm obsessed with pecan pie, and that's exactly what these are, just in a convenient bar form. The recipe makes a ton, and I had a friend's birthday coming up, which gave me the perfect excuse to make a boat-load of these tasty treats. It all started out well enough. I pulled out my most prized kitchen appliance - the stand mixer - and got the dough made perfectly. Putting it into the baking sheet was a whole nother story. Ina says in the recipe it's going to be sticky and she ain't kiddin! With the use of a lot of flour (which was mainly used to get the super glue like dough off my hands) I shaped it into the baking sheet, popped it in the oven and started on the filling.

The more messy, sticky, gooey the more delicious, right? Well, after making the filling I decided the squares were setting themselves up to be the most fantastic dessert around. Nevertheless, with a little patience, I was able to get the gooey filling on top of the baked crust.

Here's where I should have had that something-ain't-right feeling. See, the filling goes all the way to the very top of the baking sheet, and this was the exact size specified in the recipe. So, I just trusted Ina and went on with sticking the pan in the oven. Big, no HUGE, mistake. That sucker boiled and spilled over so much you would have sworn there was a second erupting of Mt. St. Helens in my oven. The apartment immediately filled with smoke and poor Suki nearly had a heart attack (I think dogs have a 6th sense for knowing when you are about to burn the house down).

Somehow, I got the pan out of the oven and managed not to throw it out the window in a fit (I was stopped by the thought of being sued by some New Yorker for covering them in pecan stickiness). And guess what - these little bars were absolutely amazing. The crust was flaky and delicious and the filling was sweet without being overly-sweet and perfectly mimicked the pecan pie that we all know and love. The big bonus was that the recipe made like 30 large sized bars. And people loved them so much I am still hearing about them months later!

Yes, the end result was worth the work. That is, until I tried to use my oven cleaner and filled the apartment with so much smoke we were forced to evacuate for 3 hours. :)

Please visit the link below for the recipe (if you dare!):

Ina's Pecan Squares
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa -The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook


Anonymous said...

Wow, those look so rich and yummy! I love pecans and have a whole bag in the freezer, I really should try these but I am feeling a bit lazy with the summer heat! ha ha.

Culinarywannabe said...

Don't blame you! Turning on the oven in this heat is not exactly at the top of my list either. :)

Bitten Sweets said...

those bars look fantastic (and i'm not even into pecans)! i love ina garten--watch her every weekday at 5!

Culinarywannabe said...

Thanks so much! They were delicious in the end. Ina is so great - her stuff always turns out amazing.

Rindy R said...

Made these over the summer - felt guilty for a week eating them - they are soooooo good(and soooo rich)

Culinarywannabe said...

Hi Rindy R - I hear ya, they last forever and make so many!

ButterYum said...

Ugh... this is exactly what I was afraid of. I made the dough (had all the same sticky problems you did), but it baked up okay. However, I stopped before finishing the filling because I can see that there is absolutely no way all that filling is going to fit in this sheet pan without bubbling all over my oven. Grrr - I'm so mad. Don't know what to do.