If you like pecans and rosemary like me, then you will just die over these bars. Mainly because they highlight both ingredients so well. Lucky for me, I live close by many pecan trees as well as plenty of rosemary bushes- so I have the best selection! Fret not though, both are easy to acquire at your local grocery store. In regards to bars, don't get me wrong, I love pecan pie. But I honestly find that making a perfect crust is kind of... annoying. It's always a huge production and the biggest mess. Not bars though! This shortbread recipe is so easy, it will take you all but 5 minutes. And because it is infused with lemon zest and fresh rosemary, it's even better than you can imagine. Now for the filling, well, it's just perfect: ooey, gooey, and caramelly. My bestie Isa Chandra perfected it years ago and it's my go-to pecan pie filling. Now don't be scared of the tofu in it, you'll never know. And don't even think about using eggs instead, it just won't work. Muhahaha! Ok, I'll let you go make this now. Let me know what you think.
rosemary pecan bars
serves 10-14, takes about 1 hour
1/2 pound (1 cup) vegan butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Next, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and rosemary using a stand or hand mixer. Once mixed until fluffy, slowly add the flour a little at a time until it is all incorporated. Press the mixture in a 9" x 13" pan and bake for 15 minutes. Once baked, remove and set aside and begin to make your filling. Leave the oven on at 350 degrees, as you will bake the bars at the same temperature.
pecan pie filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup vegan butter
6 oz silken tofu
1/4 cup cold unsweetened plain non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecan halves
Place the tofu, milk, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt in a food processor or blender and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
In a medium pot, mix the sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup with a whisk until dissolved over medium-low heat. Once small bubbles start to form, use a flat ended wooden spoon and move the mixture around for 8 minutes. Once the mixture is thick and smells like caramel, you are done.
Turn off the heat and add the butter. Then pour in the set aside mixture and mix well. Fold in the pecans and pour over shortbread. Bake for 40 minutes. Once done, remove from the oven and let cool for 3 hours.
Slice and enjoy!
For the butter, I make my own by blending different vegetable oils with an emulsifier. This ensures that I know exactly what is in my butter. If you would like to make your own, do some online research- there are loads of recipes out there. (I am currently working on one for my book ;) Luckily, there are many plant based butters on the market these days. If your local grocery store does not carry any, ask them and they usually will begin to- I've actually done this myself.
For the milk, I used unsweetened almond milk. You could get away with using soy or coconut as well. I always recommend using unflavored and unsweetened.
For the lemon zest, use a microplane. If you don't have one, you should seriously get one as they are a must-have in the kitchen. Also, only use the bright yellow part of the skin, the white part is bitter. I've seen people scrape and scrape. No, ma'am! Just the surface, please.
For the pecans, you can use chopped, it's totally ok to. It just looks prettier to use halves.
When slicing, the first piece may be more difficult to get out than the rest, but once you do, it is a breeze. I used a non-stick baking pan. If you are scared, you can put parchment paper in the pan to help you remove the pieces, but because the shortbread is so buttery and because the filling sets, it is really easy to get out. If you need to quicken things up, you can place the pan in the fridge to shave off some time. That's what I did!
Shoutout to my girl Isa Chandra for always having amazing recipes to fall back on. She helped me in figuring out the perfect filling for this one. She's the vegan queen bee y'all!