Monday, December 28, 2009

graham cracker chewy bars

My immediate thought on seeing these in the LA Times was: I want to go to there. Somehow, it took me about seven months to achieve that objective. And it’s taken me almost as many weeks to document it here. No excuses: it’s just plain unacceptable.

This feels less like a recipe, and more like a paradigm shift—a long-overdue “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” moment for the humble graham cracker.

Graham Cracker Chewy Bars
Adapted from Celebrating With Julienne, by Susan Campoy

Imagine the graham cracker as you know it—in a crumb crust or a campfire s’more—and multiply it by a power of ten. Then combine that with a pecan pie. Voila, the graham cracker chewy bar.

For the crust:
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour

For the topping:
2 1/2 cups brown sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups light, 1 cup dark)
4 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pecans, chopped
Powdered sugar
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the crust: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and flour until moist and well-blended. Press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs to blend. Whisk in the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder until well-blended. Stir in the pecans.

Spread the mixture over the baked crust and return to the 350-degree oven until the filling is dark-golden on top and jiggles slightly when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. [They will set more as they cool.] Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely. The bars can be made 1 day in advance. Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature.

Cut into 24 bars, and sprinkle a light coating of sifted powdered sugar over the top. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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