Caramel Pecan Bars

Source: Une Gamine dans la Cuisine

Caramel Pecan Bars

Crust Ingredients:
(recipe for crust from Food & Wine)
2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 tsp. of salt
1 1/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of frozen butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup of ice water
1 Tablespoon of distilled white vinegar

Caramel Ingredients:
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/2 cup of light corn syrup
5 Tablespoons of water
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 cup of heavy cream (half & half will work too)
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
2 cups of chopped, toasted pecans

Ganache Topping:
2 ounces of coarsely chopped dark chocolate
1/4 cup of heavy cream

Crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the cubed butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on the ice water and vinegar and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Turn the crumbs out onto a sheet of wax paper and knead just until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of wax paper to an 11- by-15-inch rectangle (1/4 inch thick). Trim the dough to a 9-by-13-inch rectangle and place it in the baking pan. Cut the remaining dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips and press them up the side of the pan to form a rim all around. Refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the dough is just set. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the crust for about 12 minutes longer, until lightly golden and set. Let cool. You can turn off the oven since you won't be needing it anymore.

Caramel: In a three quart heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, stop stirring, and cook the mixture until it turns a golden caramel color, about 10 - 12 minutes. (Swirl the pan as needed so the caramel cooks evenly.) Remove from heat and carefully add the cream and vanilla (the mixture will sputter and steam so be careful). Stir in the pecans and immediately pour over the cooled shortbread crust. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate until the caramel is set.

Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to just under a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Once the chocolate has softened and melted, stir it with a whisk until smooth. Pour or drizzle the chocolate over the set caramel. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set. Cut into bars using a hot, sharp knife.