I’m finally starting to get into the Christmas spirit! I’ve been humming along to Christmas carols and doing a bit of online gift shopping. I love finding the perfect little something for everyone. I’ve also already squeezed in a little holiday baking!
I made my first batch of cookies this weekend to share at Shannon’s annual cookie swap! There were tons of decadent treats and such lovely company – Boston really has the best food blogging community. To check out what everyone brought (and vote for your favorite cookie!), check out Shannon’s recap here.
My bar cookie contribution was centered around warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves), an ooey gooey layer of caramel, and a crunchy pecan topping. After whipping up a spiced sugar cookie dough, I mixed a small portion of it with both ground and chopped pecans. I baked the remaining dough, topped the partially baked bars with caramel sauce, and then crumbled the pecan dough on top and finished the up in the oven. Yum!
Spiced Caramel Pecan Bars
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup ground pecans (I pulsed whole pecans in the food processor until ground)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 10-ounce jar Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe’s
Heat oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Mix in eggs and vanilla extract; stir in flour, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, baking powder, and salt until soft dough forms. Place 1/2 cup dough (4.5 ounces) in a medium bowl and stir in ground and chopped pecans; knead until the nuts are well incorporated. Spread remaining dough in bottom of a greased 13×9-inch pan. Bake 15 minutes at 350˚F or until light golden brown on the edges. Remove from oven and evenly spread caramel sauce on top. Crumble pecan dough evenly on top and bake an additional 13 to 17 minutes at 350˚F or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour, and cut into bars. Makes 32 bars.
Nutrition: 201 calories, 11.5g fat, 1.1g fiber, 2.3g protein per bar
Cost: $0.26 per bar