chocolate pecan pie bars
I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. Mine was spent in Atlanta with Gerrit’s family, with plenty of food, going to see the new James Bond movie, and beautiful weather. And while I so enjoyed spending time with Gerrit’s family, by Friday I was ready to get home and see my own family that was in town to visit. We had dinner on Friday night together and roasted marshmallows for s’mores in the backyard.
And now we have to get back to regular life for a few weeks before Christmas comes around. Thankfully I still have some of these chocolate pecan pie bars left to tide me over until I start my Christmas baking, and no, I don’t even care that perhaps we overindulged a bit at Thanksgiving. This is the time of year for it and as long as I can keep our weekday dinners limited to things that are relatively normal, I’m not going to worry one bit about going all out on some weekend baking (and cooking…you don’t even want to know how much cheese I bought at the grocery store this morning for something I have in mind for this weekend).
So on to pecan pie bars and how we aren’t going to feel bad about still eating them this week. Every year for Thanksgiving my mom makes the best pecan pie. I used to hate it because I hated pecans, probably mostly because I had some not so great non-toasted pecans in brownies that didn’t belong there. Also I am picky. But either way, I’m finding pecans wonderful now. In my mom’s pecan pie and in these pecan pie bars with chocolate (just not so much in brownies still…I haven’t been convinced they belong there yet).
With these you get a layer of buttery chocolate crust, a dough that seems too dry to even hold together at first. But when the heat hits it, that butter it melts into the perfect rich layer (although I’m still not convinced it wouldn’t benefit from a bit of water). Sprinkle that with chocolate chips and top it with a sugary pecan layer all ready for the oven, and when you bring it out it is all toasted with gooey chocolate inside. It’s the perfect combination of chocolate and nuts; it’s not a chocolate dessert with nuts added, but is instead a nut dessert that benefits from the richness of the chocolate.
I have some other goodies to share with you soon, things that I actually made before I made these. But the reviews for these over Thanksgiving were so enthusiastic, I figured I better share these first. So enjoy, don’t feel bad about it, and happy holiday season.
Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
adapted from Southern Living Magazine Sept. 2012
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 55 minutes
Wait Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Makes about 2 dozen
3 cups pecan halves and pieces
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the pecans out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the pecans are light toasted and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
2. While the pecans are toasting, line the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches of excess to hang over the sides. Lightly grease the foil.
3. In a food processor combine the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (This can also be done in a large bowl with a pastry blender, as if you were making biscuits). Press the mixture into the bottom of the baking dish.*
4. Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the crust. Cool for about 30 minutes, allowing the chocolate chips to melt slightly.
5. While the crust is cooling, stir together the pecan mixture. In a medium-sized bowl combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and eggs. Stir together until smooth. Then add the toasted pecans, stirring to make sure each piece is coated.**
6. Pour the mixture evenly over the crust/chocolate chips. Use a spatula to spread it out.
7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and set. Cool completely (about 1 hour) and then transfer the pan to the fridge. Chill for 1 hour. Lift the bars from the pan and remove the foil. Cut into bars and serve chilled or at room temperature (or heat them up).
*I think that a couple of tablespoons of water might benefit this crust as well. I didn’t add the water (despite wanting to as I was making this) and it turned out fine. But if the crust mixture seems uncomfortably dry to you, try a bit of water.
**The original recipe is actually German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, but not liking coconut, I left it out. Feel free to add some in here–1 cup.