It has been two weeks since returning from my honeymoon. That is such a baffling statement. Friday will mark one month since my wedding. I do not know what is happening to the time, but my heart is fighting with my mind as I try to enjoy the present, rather than longing for the past.
But oh, what a wonderful past it is!
I looked into Mr. Pedantic’s deep brown eyes last evening and whispered “I miss our honeymoon so much it hurts. I want to go back.”
The days moved so slowly then. We packed so much into those blissful twenty-four hour periods that each day felt more like three. It was wonderful. I love when Time moves slowly, but it is such a rarity, and one not likely to be enjoyed in the abyss of a busy routine.
I will be sharing some of the many, many snapshots from our ten-day European interlude next week, and I cannot wait to tell you all about the London streets, the most charming hotel, and the darling cabbies whose accents made me giggle with utter delight. I hope you will find them at least partly as enthralling as I do.
Real life is still exciting, there is still much that is new. Our wedding photographs were just released and I cannot stop gazing at them with fond remembrance. I am planning my hallway “gallery wall,” which will more closely resemble a wedding day shrine, but I am perfectly okay with that. I am still excited about meal planning, grocery shopping, and dinner-making. I am still somewhat excited to wake up and make breakfast for my darling husband. I say somewhat, because, at times, 5:45am seems rather unappealing. I was always an early riser, but on these chilly mornings the covers beckon more strongly than the frigid kitchen floors.
Life right now is a melody of the new, the familiar, and constant longing for the nostalgic past. Much like these bars.
These squares are irresistible, striking the perfect balance between neoclassicism and tradition.
We greatly enjoyed Scotland’s buttery shortbread on our honeymoon, and I was eager to make a batch of my own when we returned. This particular shortbread is tender and flakey, and studded with dark chocolate and dried cranberries.
While shortbread is delightful on its own, especially alongside a strong Breakfast Blend, I wanted to blend it with my very favorite pecan pie filling. The two layers meld seamlessly, creating a hefty bar that is rich, without being overly sweet.
The memories of our Scottish adventures, the decadent layer of a familiar classic - all in one, delightful bite. A bite that even those of you who fear the world of pie-baking can enjoy.
If you are a texture nut like myself, you will enjoy the contrast of the crisp shortbread and the gooey pecan filling.
The past and the present each have their own charms, but together they are truly brilliant.
Pecan Pie Bars with Cranberry Dark Chocolate Shortbread
makes 9 large bars, or 18 “skinny” bars / shortbread recipe adapted from Ina Garten
for the shortbread
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup chocolate
- 1/2 cup cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the work bowl of your stand mixer, combine butter and granulated sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until the fluffy. Stream in the vanilla extract.
Sift to combine flour, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated. The mixture should form a rough mass. Gently fold in the chocolate and cranberries.
Press the dough into the bottom of an 8x8 baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the shortbread is just golden. While the shortbread bakes, prepare the pecan layer.
(Do not turn off the oven, as you'll be baking the second layer at the same temperature.)
for the pecan pie layer
- 1 cup raw pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium sauté pan combine pecans, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the pecans become fragrant and begin to release their natural oils - about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and chop roughly.
Sprinkle the spiced nuts evenly over the warm shortbread.
In a large bowl, whisk to combine corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla extract. Pour the filling over the pecans and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake, at 350 degrees, for 20-30 minutes, or until the pie filling appears set, but jiggles just slightly in the center.
Allow the bars to cool completely (about 4 hours) before slicing and serving. I know, it is going to require some patience, but the final reward is well worth the few hours of agony. Enjoy!