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My sister Jane has been making these for years. It’s from a cookbook called Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. When I asked her to send me the recipe, she had 20 years of notes scribbled all over the pages. So she has worked out the kinks and figured out the shortcuts for all of us. I made a test batch yesterday, and then ate half the pan, not kidding. They are so good I had to throw the rest away this morning, or I would have gone into a diabetic coma. So, make sure guests are coming over when you bake these or you won’t fit into your jeans in the morning.
½ pound (1 cup) unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
2-3 cups of all-purpose flour.
*butter and egg must be room temperature…I don’t know why, but Jane and Maida say it is crucial.
Adjust the rack 1/3 up from bottom of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Butter a 15 1/2×101/2/1 inch jelly roll pan (I used a square baking dish, but that’s all I had and they came out too thick) and place in the freezer. (It’s easier to spread the pastry on a cold pan.)
In a large bowl or Cuisinart cream the butter and the sugar, beat in the egg, salt and lemon rind.
Gradually add the flour and BEAT ONLY until mixture holds together. TIP: you want it to become the consistency of thick pancake batter, not crumbly like pie dough, so add 2 cups of the flour and then if you need more add tablespoon by tablespoon. As you can see in the picture mine is a little thick, but they were still fantastic.
Place mixture by large spoonfuls all over the bottom of the cold pan then with floured fingers press into all the corners. This for some reason makes me nervous and I feel I am doing it wrong, but just shove it around. Prick the bottom with at ¼ inch intervals with a fork. Chill in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Then bake for 20 minutes until half-baked and lightly colored. Next, take it out to cool completely. Finish this before starting the pecan topping.
½ pound ( 1 cup) butter, cut in pieces
½ cup honey
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup heavy cream
4-5 cups pecan halves, I like them chopped in half again.
In a heavy 3 quart saucepan over moderately high heat, cook the butter and honey until butter is melted. Add both sugars and stir to dissolve.
Bring to a boil and DON’T STIR for exactly two minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the heavy cream and pecans.
I like to use less pecans because I like the caramel gooey stuff, but if you like it more “nutty” then add the full 5 cups. Immediately spread the hot mixture evenly over the half-baked crust. Spread with the back of a wooden spoon to make as even as possible.
Bake in a 375 degree oven (rack in same position as pastry shell) for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool completely. I put mine in the refrigerator once it had cooled, and it helped to pop it out of the pan. Cut into small squares, with a long knife. Yum.