Cheat Day [cheet dey] – noun: The one day of the week where diet minded fitness freaks throw caution to the wind and indulge only on the most tantalizing, ridiculously calorie dense foods known to man. Often associated with the term, “carb hangover,” which occurs the morning after a particularly fruitful cheat day. Synonyms: Free Day, Fun Day, Fat Day

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Part IV: Pecan Bars

So, as you might already know, my family and I tend to overdo it a bit on Christmas.  Holidays in general tend to be an all out gorge fest marking the end of a multi-day bake-a-thon where I frantically run around my kitchen coated in flour and shame.  I don't know how we got here.

Actually, I know exactly how we got here.  Ever since we were kids, we had the staple "must do" items at the holiday dessert table: pecan pie, pumpkin pie- things like that.  And every once in a while, we'd try something new.  And inevitably, many of those recipes got added to the "must do" list and the gluttony ensued.  So in order to "cut back," my mom and I sat down for lunch one day and threw the list out.  We started from scratch, only writing down the recipes we really wanted to make for this particular holiday.  I wanted a red velvet cheesecake cake and bread pudding, my mom wanted tirimisu and rhubarb pie.  We decided that we were all old enough to understand that we don't need the classics for every holiday.  I mean, we just had pecan pie for Thanksgiving.... we don't need it again.... right?  There is no reasonable excuse as to why the seven adults in my family can't handle a Christmas without pecan pie.

Well apparently six adults could handle a pecanless holiday.  This adult secretly pouted until she realized that we had stated that we can bake "any cookies we'd like to have on hand."  And this one little bullet point on our holiday menu suddenly took on a new meaning for me- it was my loophole.

So then I made pecan bars.  Technically they are a cookie- so I wasn't breaking the rules.  But apparently I'm still 5 years old and I can't handle breaking tradition in the slightest.  No pecan pie is like no Santa Claus.  I had to.  She practically forced my hand.

Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe adapted from:


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

The most important part of this recipe is prepping the pan.  Unless you 10 X 15 inch jellyroll pan has unusually tall sides, you will need to plan on a little pan overflow.  

Line your jelly roll pan with several sheets of aluminum foil that hang over the edge.  Bend the foil up so that it creates sides which will prevent overflow.  Grease the pan.  Place your jellyroll pan on a cookie sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in 1 cup of butter with a pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It will be very crumbly and will not come together in the bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared pan, and press in firmly. 

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, corn syrup, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread the filling evenly over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into bars.

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