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Pecan or Angel Slices

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.

Other articles you might enjoy: Molasses Ginger Cookies, Thumbprint Cookies, Viennese Crescents, Iced Hermits

Pecan or Angel Slices
Makes about 12 bars

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
     Pinch salt
     1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir in:
     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.


arlei's picture

I make these during the holidays and for special occasions. People go nuts over them!(forgive the pun)I usually have to hide the pan at a family function so that everybody gets some. The only thing I do differently, is that I dust he top with powdered sugar instead of the lemon glaze. So Yummy!
meg's picture

Thanks, Ariel! These are a classic holiday treat around here, and we love them. I agree with you on the lemon glaze--these bars are so rich that they really don't need it.
Francine and Charlotte's picture

These are our absolute favorite Christmas and special occasion cookies. The lemon glaze adds the perfect amount of tang to contrast the sweetness of the cookie. This recipe is a keeper!
meg's picture

They are SO good! We're happy you like them.
Claire's Cuisine's picture

I started making angel bars in 1970 when I received the cookbook for a college graduation gift. I became a Home Economics teacher and used the recipe in cooking classes. It was a very popular recipe! I make these at Christmas and think of the many parents who have lost children. Today I am making them for a political meeting in my community. The bars create pleasant conversation and are a great sagway for more serous conversation! The Pecan Angel bars are truly a joy to make, a joy to serve, and a joy to eat! My thanks to the Rombauer family.
meg's picture

Thank you so much, Claire! This is truly a special recipe.
Martha Jones's picture

I use the recipe in my 1966 Joy of Cooking. This recipe calls for a 9 x 12 pan and makes 48 bars. Everything else is pretty much the same. Is the recipe in the latest Joy the one above?
john's picture

Yes Martha, this version is from the latest edition. It uses a smaller pan, more nuts, and less sugar. The serving size has also been increased from 1x2-inch bars to ~2x2.5-inch bars. Obviously, this makes for a thicker "slice"... I guess we'll have to <sound of arm twisting> try them side by side.

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