Bacon Salted Caramel Pecan Bars Recipe

by Alice Currah on September 8, 2009. Updated February 12, 2010

SaltedCaramelPecanBars
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Sometimes I need a little help from my friends for inspiration. Not to long ago I was an admirer of Food Blogger, Ashley Rodriguez. Now we are good friends who share the same passion for food, motherhood, and life. She’s indirectly responsible for this post. You see, back in July I met Ashley for the first time at Shauna a.k.a. Gluten-Free Girl’s Pork Potluck. Ashley brought these amazing bacon caramels which at times have haunted me at night thinking about them – they are that good! So when I decided to make/bake caramel pecan bars, Ashley’s bacon caramels inspired me to add bacon to them. Some of you right now are asking yourself why the heck I would add bacon to pecan bars.. and my response is, why the heck wouldn’t I? And if you really cannot live with the idea of adding bacon to baked goods, just omit them.  But just in case you haven’t heard, “Bacon is the New Black”.  You cannot escape bacon, its everywhere and in everything!

The night I actually made them I was engaged in a twitter conversation with several people regarding gluten-free baking.  Remembering Jeanne had a gluten-free AP mix she uses in her recipes, I quickly adapted a gluten-free variation of the crust using the ingredients she uses.

I ended up baking 2 separate batches of these yummy bars.  One batch was “Gluten-free” while the other was just “regular” using all-purpose flour.   When it was time to taste test them, I was pleasantly surprised how the gluten-free crust tasted almost exactly like the regular crust.  The only difference between the two was a slight texture change.  I had several family and friends, Eric and Dawn do a blind taste test and half of them preferred the gluten-free crust over the other based on texture preference.  My point is, these Bacon Salted Caramel Pecan Bars are awesome.. really awesome!  I kid you not when I say the gluten-free version is really as good as the regular version.  I brought a batch of the gluten-free ones to a Girls Night Out and was happy when Ashley, Keren, Jeanne, Lorna, and Viv also thought they were really good!  More importantly, my kids thought these were the best cookies they’ve ever eaten and have requested I bake more as soon as I buy some pecans.

As a baking side note, do yourself a favor and buy quality thick bacon.  I used Hemplers.  You want to fry the bacon until it is very crispy but not burned.  Coarsely cut the bacon up so you have varying sized pieces.  It is also important to mention to use coarse sea salt and not regular table salt when sprinkling on top.  The sea salt will enhance the flavor of the bacon and bring out a salty sweet “party in your mouth” quality to these bars not to be missed.

And for those of you living a gluten-free lifestyle, I REALLY REALLY hope you enjoy this recipe.  I had you in mind when I developed the gluten-free variation.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.

Bacon Lovers: You can thank me later!

But for now, may I present to you the recipe for Alice’s Bacon Salted Caramel Pecan Bars. Enjoy!
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Alice’s Bacon Salted Caramel Pecan Bars Recipe .

INGREDIENTS FOR CRUST:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

*Recipe for gluten-free crust below.

INGREDIENTS FOR GLUTEN-FREE CRUST:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (please check label to make sure it is gluten-free)

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon brown rice flour

1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon white rice flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup sweet rice flour a.k.a Mochiko

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

INGREDIENTS FOR BACON CARAMEL PECAN TOPPING:

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract *please check label for gluten-free if needed

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup of coarsely crumbled bacon * thick cut quality bacon is recommended

3 cups toasted pecans *recipe here.

coarse sea salt

*Optional Variation: 2 tablespoons Bourbon

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl or Kitchenaid, cream butter and sugar until light.  Add egg and vanilla and beat for one minute.  Add baking powder and flour(s) (and xanthan gum if preparing gluten-free) until everything is well mixed and has formed a cookie dough. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray.  Press cookie dough mixture evenly throughout the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown (see picture below).  Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a large sauce pan or pot.  Cook over medium-high heat stirring it occasionally until sugar is completely dissolved.  When the sugar/water/corn syrup mixture begins to change to an amber like color (like a dark honey) immediately turn off heat.  Carefully add vanilla and heavy cream stirring (add bourbon for optional variation) until smooth and looks like caramel sauce.  Add toasted pecans and bacon stirring and coating everything.  Spread bacon caramel pecan mixture over the cookie crust evenly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or until cold.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt sparingly and cut into bars/squares. Enjoy!!

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 8, 2009 at 11:07 am

So beautiful… All of your pictures are amazing! Bacon salted caramel sounds so amazing.

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Divina September 8, 2009 at 11:20 am

That is awesome with the step by step photo. I thank you now for the bacon.

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Jada September 8, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Wow! These look amazing!

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jenn September 8, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Looks really awesome!!! Why is that that bacon make this so good? Hehe… Good tip on getting good quality thick bacon, too. My mouth is literally watering right now at the site of those. *drool*

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Tartelette September 8, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Outstanding Alice! I bet they will make an appearance at our Thanksgiving dinner!

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Janna September 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm

OMG, Alice! I must make these sometime. You had me at “party in your mouth,” but the bacon photo of what you don’t want to happen is just as humorous. I’m curious about the gluten-free recipe, too.

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Lori @ RecipeGirl September 8, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous post Alice!!! These look absolutely fabulous- what a unique dessert idea.

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Chef Gwen September 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm

But I like burnt bacon…OK, maybe not that burnt, but goodness gracious, do you ever have some mouthwatering pictures. Too bad I can’t reach through the screen and grab one. Guess I’ll just have to make some. Thanks for the super simple, clear recipe instructions :)

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Joelen September 8, 2009 at 4:44 pm

These look absolutely heavenly! Wonderful job and mouthwatering photos!

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Elizabeth September 8, 2009 at 6:10 pm

I’m totally drooling all over my keyboard. Thanks Alice. This whole living in the country thing is going to drive me nuts! I have none of the necessities to make this and won’t be going into the village for days!! I’m going to be dreaming of salty bacon caramel goodness…oh it will haunt me.

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Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 8, 2009 at 6:39 pm

You are an absolute VIXEN with these bars!

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Amy J September 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

This is the LAST thing I needed to find today. They look too good to not try though. Maybe I’ll just eat one and take the rest to my skinny friends.

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Jen @ MaplenCornbread September 8, 2009 at 9:26 pm

A bit speechless. WOW! This sounds incredible!! I cant wait to share it with my Dad!

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The Leftoverist September 9, 2009 at 12:17 am

It’s you again! Your foodgawker photos are always the ones I click on. I love Hempler’s bacon. I grew up in Bellingham, and my dad used to be the janitor there when I was a baby, cleaning the sausage-making machine for minimum wage.

These look so amazing. Just beautiful.

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Amy I. September 9, 2009 at 2:08 am

Wow, Alice! Seems like you have the salty/sweet combo nailed, and your photos are gorgeous as always. I don’t eat pork, but if I did I’d be all over these :)

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Nutmeg Nanny September 9, 2009 at 11:23 am

These look interesting and delicious:)

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Jennifer September 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I’m seriously drooling after reading this post. Good thing I work from home…alone so no one can see me.

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Kellie C. September 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

I had to make these as soon as I saw them~ Let me just say, they did not disappoint! It did take some time to bring the sugar/water/syrup mixture to the amber color but once I turned up the heat, it was there in no time. The “cookie dough” like mixture for the base was a bit sticky and I initially thought the base was going to be too thin for the 9×13 pan but it turned out just fine.
I have already sent the first batch to my husband’s office and plan on making another batch for some other lucky recipients! :D
Thanks for the recipe and keep it coming! (please : ) )

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Alice September 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Kellie,
Thanks for your recipe review. Yes, the base is a little sticky.. kind of like sugar cookie dough. Its best to press it in with wet hands. But once its baked its more like a cookie/shortbread. In a 9×13 pan, the cookie base should rise/bake to just over 1/4″ but less than 1/2″. Just curious, did you bake the Gluten-free crust or regular?

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Kellie C. September 10, 2009 at 3:35 am

Hi Alice,
The regular (shortbread) base is awesome; it balances out the topping very nicely! I certainly appreciate that you can offer the Gluten- free version though.

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Sara @ Our Best Bites September 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Bacon IS all the rage! I haven’t been brave enough to try it in a dessert, but man these pictures are just about enough to convince me!

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Wizzythestick September 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Bacon really is the new black. It does seem like every time I visit a blog some one is doing something new with bacon. To be honest some of these have not appealed to me eg. Bacon ice-cream but this looks like something I would love to try

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peabody September 12, 2009 at 1:50 am

Holy cow! I love this. I love you for making this. Mmm,bacon and caramel.

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Sam@BingeNYC September 12, 2009 at 1:54 pm

OH. MA. GAWD. speechless. Must make this ASAP.

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Kamran Siddiqi September 13, 2009 at 12:06 pm

You’ve got me at bacon salted caramel! This looks super irresistible and sinfully delicious! I’ve got to whip up some of these very soon because I am drooling! I’ll tell you how it goes when I make it.

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J September 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

This was so yummy – at first i was skeptical because I usually don’t like gluten free foods but this was AWESOME!

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Lori@FakeFoodFree September 15, 2009 at 3:42 pm

This is my first visit to your blog and how in the world did I miss it before! These are amazing! Bookmarking them now for my holiday baking list.

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Fuji Mama September 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Wow, these look amazing!

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paco September 24, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Recipe calls for light corn syrup, should say golden corn syrup wasted a lot of ingredients!

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alice September 24, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Hi Cori, I used light corn syrup. I have no idea what golden corn syrup is. Perhaps you can tell me where the recipe went wrong and I can assist from there.
Alice

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Arwen October 16, 2009 at 5:36 am

Beautiful recipe. I was wondering though, if you have any thoughts on adapting this for a gluten free and CORN free household? I have brown rice syrup but don’t know if that will work as a substitute for the corn syrup?

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Beka November 21, 2014 at 10:28 pm

I was wondering about the same thing since I have to go not only gluten- and corn-free, but also dairy-free soon and I wanted to make this for Thanksgiving. One thing I think might work for both of us is this recipe: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2013/12/easy-peasy-caramel-sauce-dairycane-sugarcorn-syrup-free.html

Theoretically, for our dietary restrictions, we should be able to replace the sugar, corn syrup, water, heavy cream and vanilla portion of the topping recipe with this one.

This is, of course, just a theory and I’m planning to test it out in a few days, but it seems promising!

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Becca November 26, 2009 at 12:49 am

Hi Alice. Great recipe. I think that I did something wrong when I added the cream. The sugar mixture turned into a huge glob. I stirred it forever over very low heat and eventually smoothed it out. Was that supposed to happen? Thanks again for sharing the recipe. My husband would do anything for me if I make these for him. -Becca

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alice November 26, 2009 at 1:27 am

Hi Becca,
When making caramel, it is important to cook the sugar at at least medium heat, ideally medium-high heat but not on high heat (your sugar will burn fast if you do). Just simmering the sugar syrup at a low temperature will cause your sugar syrup to convert to what I call as “soft ball” stage. Raising the heat will help the sugar start to caramelize. Don’t be afraid to turn the heat up.. just watch the sugar for when it starts to change colors. Hope this helps.. if you have any more questions just let me know.

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Erin December 23, 2009 at 8:11 pm

So I’m at the final stages of this recipe, and I’m a bit concerned I didn’t let the sugar syrup caramelize enough. It was hard to see given my saucepan has a black teflon interior. Any suggestion on how to correct that, once you’ve got the pecans, vanilla, cream and bacon mixed in?

I guess if they are don’t turn out “perfect”, I’ll just have to make another batch tomorrow – hee. Can’t wait to try these!!

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alice December 23, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Hi Erin,
The bad news is that if the sugar syrup didn’t caramelize, the bars will not set up and may be a little runny without the richness of the caramel flavor. The good news is you will still have a yummy type of dessert. One thing I would try perhaps is take a small amount of your mixture and try cooking it longer to see if it will caramelize. I wouldn’t worry about the bacon or the pecans. If your mixture turns to a caramel color.. take a spoon and taste your mixture with a pecan (warning-it will be very hot and you will need to make sure it is cool enough to eat). If it does caramelize, then cook the rest of the mixture and proceed and finish off the recipe. Hope this helps!
Alice

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Nina February 12, 2010 at 12:21 am

question for you-

when you say “1/4 cup tapioca flour 1/4 cup sweet rice flour a.k.a Mochiko” is it both or either or for the gluten free recipe?

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alice February 12, 2010 at 7:54 am

Hi Nina,
You’ll need both tapioca flour and sweet rice flour. Hope this helps.
Alice

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Jenipher May 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Wow…this makes me wish i wasn’t a vegetarian. Maybe i’ll try this with vegan bacon! :D Who knows?

Awesome as always,
Jenipher

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Kaelee March 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I have a good friend a few states away who would adore these bars. Just wondering though… Do you think they would hold up okay in the mail? If so, do you have any tips on packaging and sending them?

Thank you so much. I love your site, and your photos are fantastic!

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Jackie May 24, 2011 at 12:59 am

Alice I just made these. Everyone who tried them was in l-o-v-e. :)
Thanks so much for making me look like a culinary hero.
I tell people it’s really the recipe and not me since that’s where the credit should go.
I was initially worried about messing up the caramel, but it came out amazingly and tasted so good. <3

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Stevie Smith September 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

A friend of mine showed me your recipe a week or so ago, and I thought, Bacon, Caramel, Pecan? I didn’t see how this combination would be effective until I was invited to actually try it for myself. And I must say I loved it. Not too good for my sugar levels though, but if I could muster enough will power to take just one bite or two….

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alice September 19, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hi Stevie,
Yes, I know it sound bizarre but the bacon adds a nice smokiness and a hit of saltiness to balance the sweet out so beautifully. I make these at Christmas time and they are always a hit!

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Gayla October 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Dear Alice,
I cannot wait to try this recipe. And THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for the gluten-free version! I have each of those flours in my pantry/freezer. I have used Jeanne’s all-purpose gluten-free flour blend with great success for over a year now. Ahh. . .salted caramel bacon bars. . .oh my! Did I say thank you for the gf version?

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Rhea December 17, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I made these last year for a holiday cookie exchange. They were FABULOUS. I also made another version where I cheated and used a jar of Mrs. Richardson’s caramel sauce and that worked out pretty good as a quick substitute. Just need to keep them cold or the caramel gets a little too gooey. Your version is better :)

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Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden October 20, 2012 at 5:16 am

Great treat.I love it!

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