In an effort to curb the consumption of holiday sweets around here this year, I told everyone in the house that they could pick just one thing that they’d like me to bake. If you only knew how much sweet stuff we end up with that I don’t bake myself, you would understand that I’m not being mean, it’s just self preservation!
I could already guess what their choices would be, just as I’d already made the decision as to what my own choice would be. Kentucky Brown Sugar Pecan Bars are my very favorite holiday cookies, so the choice was easy! My mom was given the recipe by a coworker when I was a pre-teen I think (though I’m sure she’ll pop in here to confirm or deny), and back then, little Miss Picky Eater me wouldn’t touch them; I was probably turned off by the slight bourbon-y flavor. Apparently my tastes have matured a little over the years because these days, Kentucky Brown Sugar Pecan Bars are on the “must bake” list every holiday season!
Despite liking these cookies, I’m not a fan of straight up bourbon or whiskey. However, ITMan recently discovered honey whiskey after a coworker mentioned how good it was. I owe that guy a drink or something, because ITMan’s sudden (and extremely unlikely and odd) interest in whiskey give me a couple of last minute gift ideas for him (this set of sweet Schott Zwiesel DOF glasses and a spiffy thingy that makes spherical ice), which is huge since he’s notoriously hard to shop for. Not only that, I used the honey whiskey in the cookies this year instead of bourbon, and they’re better than ever!
Right after I baked the cookies, I had to taste them of course. You know, just to be sure that the substitution didn’t ruin them or something! 😉 While I was at it, I took a couple of pictures since I thought I might share the recipe here at some point. After dumping the pics of the cookies and some other things from the camera to the computer, I ran across this photo of the festive glitzy bits that I have hanging from the dining room chandelier:
Pine cones, feathers, bits of lace, buttons, velvet ric rac ribbon, and a fashion neclace with silver chain and plastic pistachio colored beads. I threw all that together to gussy up the chandelier for the holidays. I actually did that last Christmas, but I liked it all so well that I left it up there all year. I decided that the cookie photo and the chandelier photo shared a color palette that would make a lovely quilt, so I played with some fabric just to see:
The warm browns of the cookies, the light beigey-yellow label, and the pale pistachio napkin are striking against the dark grey-brown countertop, and I have LOTS of fabrics in those colors. It’s not a complete palette yet and I’m not sure what I’ll make with it, but I’ll definitely file it away as fabric for thought!
Now that I’ve teased you with super closeups of yummy cookies, I’ll leave you with the recipe! These bar cookies are a tad bit more sophisticated than the average sugar cookie which makes them perfect for New Year’s celebrations, so it’s definitely not too late to bake up a batch. Enjoy the rich sweetness now, count calories (or carbs or fat grams, whatever) later. 😉 Happy New Year!!
Processor Kentucky Brown Sugar Pecan Bars
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecans; chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup frozen butter; cut into small pieces
1/4 cup butter; melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar; firmly packed
3 tablespoons bourbon; or to taste (substitute with honey whiskey if desired)
In food processor fitted with steel blade, process flour, baking powder, salt, nuts, sugar, and butter pieces until mixture resembles fine meal (use pulse button for best control). Press into a buttered 8 inch square pan; bake at 350° 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Using steel blade, process until well blended remaining ingredients; pour over baked layer. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool; cut into bars with serrated knife.
Makes 32 bars.
Notes: If you don’t have a food processor, you can make these in a mixer. You’ll need to chop the pecans very finely before adding to other crust ingredients. Also, the crust never does look “golden brown” to me at 15 minutes, so I usually bake it a little longer. I keep these in the refrigerator since there are usually only two people eating them around here, though I do allow them to reach room temperature before eating. Impatient folks can just zap a couple of cookies in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, then let rest for a minute or so before eating.
P.S. One of these days (if recipes ever become more than a “once every five years” thing around here) I’ll make it so it’s a one-button printout thing. Until then, you can select just the recipe and copy it, then paste into a new Word doc or even use Notepad and print it out. Or just Pin it to Pinterest, that works too! If I get really motivated when it’s not almost 11p.m., I’ll make a pdf file and plop it in here…