Friday, January 15, 2010

Ina's Pecan Squares

Ina's Pecan Squares Barefoot Contessa ButterYumPecan Squares - another fabulous recipe from Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa.

I started making this recipe without taking the time to read any of the online reviews - that was a mistake. I nearly had a disaster on my hands, but thankfully I was able to correct the problem before I made a terrible mess...

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumThe recipe starts innocently enough - make the shortbread crust. This was a breeze, especially using my favorite BeaterBlade attachment.

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumPressing the shortbread crust into the 12x18x1-inch sheet pan was a little time consuming and messy because the dough was so soft and wet that I had to continually dip my hands in flour between each and every press.

This is the point in the process when I started to question whether or not all that pecan filling was going to fit in the pan without overflowing...

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumAfter the crust emerged from it's prebake session, I noticed it had puffed up quite a bit. In other words, now there was even less room for the filling! This is when I KNEW there was no way the crust was going to be able to contain 1 pound of butter, 1 cup of honey, 3 cups of brown sugar, and 2 pounds of chopped pecans... ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!

So I put the recipe on hold while I went online to read the reviews. Many people did indeed end up with a horrible mess in their ovens, but some thought ahead a lined their sheet pans with foil, building up the sides of their pans - an excellent idea, but it was too late for me to line my pan - the crust was already prebaked.

So I came up with Plan B.

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumI topped my prebaked crust with a spare sheet pan, flipped everything upside down, and removed the original sheet pan. The crust released perfectly without breaking - so far, so good.

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumThen I added several strips of foil...

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYum...placed the original sheet pan back in place...

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYum...and flipped it all right side up again.

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumVoila - a foil-lined sheet pan, sides built up, topped with the prebaked crust.

After crimping the corners closed, I felt much better about pouring all that ooey-gooey filling onto the crust and sending it off to bubble in my oven for 25 minutes.

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYumThe filling was extremely easy to make. Just bring the butter, sugar, honey, and zests to a full boil for 3 minutes...

Making Ina's Pecan Squares ButterYum...stir in the heavy cream and pecans...

Ina's Pecan Squares Barefoot Contessa ButterYum...and pour the mixture on top of the crust and bake.

Ina's Pecan Squares Barefoot Contessa ButterYumCool, chill, cut, and serve - delicious!

Ina's Pecan Squares
serves 54 2x2-inch squares (recipe can also be baked in two 9x13 pans)

1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup honey
3 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 pounds pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Make the crust by combining the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment or BeaterBlade - mix for 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter/sugar mixture on low speed just until all the ingredients are completely incorporated. Using well floured hands, press dough into ungreased pan - line 1-inch tall pan with foil or better yet, use a 2-inch tall pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Cool. Make the filling.

To make the filling - combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils; continue to boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream and chopped pecans. Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool until set, wrap and refrigerate. Cut into 2x2-inch squares for 54 portions.

My Notes - The flavor from the orange zest is very, very pronounced in this recipe - although yummy, next time I think I'll go for a more traditional pecan pie-like flavor by omitting the citrus zest and increasing the vanilla. I may decrease the shortbread crust by half as well. These are yummy drizzled with chocolate.


  1. Hi Patricia,

    I am glad you posted this. I had looked at those and was going to make them. I'll just use your page and experience. I have had enough cookie disasters. Although I'm sure they'll be many more!


  2. Pretty clever you were and these look delicious. I may just have to try it and I think I'll go for two 9X12 pans!!

  3. Sounds good Vicki - some of the online reviews said these freeze beautifully.

  4. These look delicious. I would like one with my tea right now.

  5. Peacan's are my weakness. These look so wonderful I can hardly stand it!

  6. I agree with Vicki! I was thinking the same thing too when i read your posts.."so clever to improvise the pan with foil"! Looks so delicious! Is it very sweet since there's caramel?

  7. Hi Faithy - they are sweet, but not extremely. The filling has more pecans than caramel, and the orange zest really cuts the sweet flavor.

  8. You did an excellent and creative save with this recipe, but how do you think Ina got this to work?
    Something must have gone wrong in the writing -- or making -- but she didn't correct it. Would halving the crust and filling recipes, but using the same size pan make the foil unnecessary? However, your save makes for a deep, rich-looking bar. Good for you.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Hi Kathleen - I'm sure Ina's recipes aren't tested as much as Rose's are. I watched Ina make these on TV, without any problem, so I'm sure the ingredient amounts are off in the recipe.

    To answer your question - I think halving the crust might be enough to do the trick, but next time I'll probably make the recipe in two deep sided 9x13 pans - then I won't have to worry about it bubbling over at all.

  11. I've always wanted to try these, but alas I'm afraid of all the pounds I'd gain just from eating one bar. Too much butter.

  12. Why, Oh Why, Oh Why do you do this to me? Your recipes are so fabulous and your pictures are delicious!
    Thank you for the tips on how to make a pan bigger. Brilliant!
    Have a great day.

  13. Yvonne - you're too kind - thanks so much!!

    Likestocook - I know what you mean. Thankfully I have a couple of functions to take these to this weekend. I definitely wouldn't want these hanging around the house all week!!


  14. i love your idea for foil walls--it worked marvelously, for your bars are the perfect ratio of crust to topping. bravo!

  15. Ina has great recipes, doesn't she? Anything carmelly is aces with me anyway.

  16. The layers and layers of goodness are calling my name. I love anything by Ina but I didn't know about this recipe. Thank you so much for another great contribution to FF.

  17. Hi there

    I came across your lovely blog and thought you might like to take a peek at mine. I live in the French Alps and write about food and renovating our old watermill. Would you be interested in exchanging links?



  18. Thanks for posting this one! I love Ina's recipes and it was only a matter of time before I tried making these myself and I would have had a huge mess on my hands. How very enterprising of you!!! They turned out great and thanks for sharing your adventure and expertise!

  19. OMG! I think I just died and went to heaven. This is amazing!!!

  20. whew! what a close one! hehe. glad you were able to save it. =)

    those look soooo good! this recipe seems to make A LOT. i'm gonna have to cut it down by 3/4 when i make it!

  21. Those pecan bars look great and it looks like a really nice crust to use for alot of applications. Good save by making your own foil colar so your oven didn't get dirty.

  22. Looks like you've got a "tasty" blog! I'm going to enjoy following you. Have a great day!


  23. I am so impressed with your on the spot problem solving skills. . I'm not sure I would have had the guts to flip the crust over, brava!

  24. That looks delicious! Ina has the best ideas! Have a great weekend. Denise

  25. Oh, this looks devine! I've never had a failure with an Ina recipe :)


  26. impressive save i must say. i just know i would have done what Ina's says, i mean one does usually trust an Ina recipe, right?... thanks for the reminder to read a recipe through and if it looks odd do a little investigating. i love your creative quick thinking AND they came out killer looking.

  27. Great save! I think that's why I've never made these because I have read the reviews. But what I don't understand is that she made them on her show and didn't have this problem.

    They look wonderful though and I'm glad you didn't end up with an oven full of goo!

  28. I followed your ideas of less crust and zest. I'm not sure what the original tasted like, but with more vanilla and just a little crust these were so good! It's like caramel, pecans, on a short bread cookie! Can't go wrong. Thanks again for posting a fabulous review.

  29. It's a delicious way to spend your day, specially if you are unemployed. If you like cookies, this'll be your best move. It looks yummy.


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