Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70°F. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour two 8 × 2-inch round cake pans or line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper.
In the process of editing the book for the next edition, there are always some recipes that end up on the chopping block. The trouble with exceedingly large cookbooks is that we often have to make hard choices--we want to update the book to reflect the way people eat now, but we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. We don't want to do away with important or still-relevant recipes just for the sake of modernization. It's a delicate balance.
There are some recipes, however, that were we to get rid of them, we would have an uprising on our hands. Most of these recipes are JOY staples and have been in the book for decades. Of course, it isn't just the repercussions we fear were we to do away with these recipes. The recipes are good.
Many of these really good recipes are baking recipes. Irma was an accomplished home baker, and quite a few of her marvelous creations remain in JOY's pages. One of these is Pecan or Angel Slices. According to JOY legend, a former editor's wife baked batch after batch of these bars to send to booksellers, who then promptly ordered copies of JOY for their stores. Whether this is true or not, the message is clear--a heartfelt gift of something rich and sweet can melt many hearts.
The current headnote to these bars currently reads, "One fan says her family is sure these are the cakes St. Peter gives little children at the Gates of Heaven, to get over the first pangs of homesickness." We would like to dedicate this post to the beautiful little children so tragically taken from their families last week, as well as to those they left behind to mourn them. Our hearts go out to you. May we remember to cherish those we love and keep them close to us.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 × 9-inch baking pan lined with parchment or foil. Beat in a medium bowl until well blended:
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Stir in until well blended and smooth:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Press the dough evenly into the baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat in a medium bowl until well combined:
2 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
1 cup flaked or shredded sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Spread the mixture evenly over the hot baked crust. Bake until the top is firm and golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly wet, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the pan on a rack. If desired, while the bars are still warm, spread evenly with a glaze made of:
1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Let stand until the bars are cool and the glaze is set.