Glazed Pecan Toffee Squares / by Chelsea Zwieg

What to do, what to do when you happen to make the greatest christmas cookie you ever have and they are more than a little ugly. Well not ugly exactly. I would call these more along the lines of scrappy. Or rustic, if you're trendy. But it doesn't even matter because let me reiterate that first part: these are the best christmas cookies I have EVER made (to be fair, I am not including these, because after making them again this weekend I have realized that they are pretty much just my favorite food. so we'll leave those in their own special place and move on.) Toffee squares have always been one of the best, in my opinion. But they always seemed to need just a little something more. 

And that's when visions of those magical glazed and sugared nuts that everyone seems to have a bowl of at their house this time of year started to appear. I don't care if they're pecans, walnuts or almonds, whether they're in a santa bowl or rudolph plate, whether you're trying to take my coat or get me a drink: GIMME THOSE NUTS, IT'S WHY I'M HERE. Somehow in all my life, I never stopped to consider that they were probably very easy to make. They taste like nuts and sugar... could that really be all they are? Could it be that instead of turning into a territorial squirrel at every party I attend, I could actually make them at home and stuff my cheeks on my own time? Or better yet, sprinkle them all over the top of some toffee squares and happy dance all over my kitchen about it. Turns out, I can!

And that is just what these are. Toffee squares with some ground pecans swapped for some of the flour and glazed pecans alllllll over the top. So good that I don't care if they're ugly. Or scrappy. As long as they are right here in front of me, we're good. 

Glazed Pecan Toffee Squares

| Ingredients | 

For the glazed pecan topping: 

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup pecans 
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar

For the bars: 

  • 1 cup pecans (will be 3/4 cup once ground)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped 

Preheat oven to 300. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white with 1 tbsp. water until frothy. Add the pecans and toss to coat. Add the sugars and stir until the pecans are evenly covered in sugar. Spread the pecan mixture in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10. Remove and let cool on the pan. Once the pecans are done, increase the oven temp to 350. 

Meanwhile, toast the remaining cup pecans in a dry skillet on the stovetop. You can also toast them in the oven while the others bake, but they need a much shorter time than 40 minutes and I would never remember to take them out in a million years. One the toasted pecans have cooled slightly, place them in a food processor and pulse until they are very finely ground (just a little coarser than flour). 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and add the egg yolk and vanilla. Mix well. Add the flour, salt and 3/4 cup ground pecans and mix until just combined. 

Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Transfer the dough to the pan and press into an even layer. 

Bake 30-35 minutes, until browned around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides. I like to pull mine at 30 or a little before, while the center is still pale, so that they are still super chewy and little bit underdone. SO GOOD. 

Sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the top of the shortbread base. Let sit for 2 minutes, they use a spatula to spread into an even layer. If the chocolate doesn't melt all the way from the heat of the bar, you can stick it back in the oven for a minute to help things along.

Coarsely chop the glazed pecans and sprinkle over the top of the chocolate. Chill until firm. Remove the bar from the pan by pulling up on the parchment overhang.