Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Classic Southern pecan pie bars with a touch of cocoa in the crust, a layer of melted chocolate, salted and roasted pecans, and a splash of bourbon in the filling... if you like.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Most Southerners certainly have a pecan pie recipe in their recipe box, and really, these bars are simply an extension of that pie, made into convenient little bite-sized squares. Add a little chocolate to the mix, and, a splash of bourbon if you dare, and you've got some fantastic pecan pie bars.

Most of y'all know that I am more of a savory kinda gal when it comes to food and would choose salty over sweet any day - a major reason you don't see as many desserts on my site, as you likely do on many other Southern recipe websites.

When I have the opportunity to make something sweet, and also give it a nice, salty element, that really makes me happy. I accomplish that here by preparing not just toasted, but buttery, salted and roasted pecans to use in my bars. It gives me that savory-salty that I love so much, and makes the sugar much more bearable to me. By the way, these are fantastic snacks to have around with that relish tray during the holidays, even if it requires a second mortgage.

I also used a tip I found in Southern Living magazine to combine both pecan halves and pieces in the bars for a little more texture. Just like pecan pie, take care to avoid over-beating the filling here too, or the results will be runny. Just give it a gentle stir to mix together.

The wait to eat these is pure agony, I tell you, because for the best results, you really do have to let the pan fully cool. Then, once it's cooled down, it's best if you also refrigerate the pan about another hour before cutting them into squares, to ensure that it firms up well. It really is worth the wait though.

How many squares you get depends on how you cut them, but a 6 by 4 cut is pretty reasonable, so expect to get at least 24, though they can be cut into smaller squares too. To store, I like to cut these into squares and keep them in a Lock and Lock in the refrigerator, layered with wax paper. I picked these up from QVC this season to store my holiday goodies in. Aren't they too cute? See, I told y'all. Me and QVC. Dangerous.

I have no financial affiliation with QVC other than they have met my wallet and my UPS guy knows all about the relationship. You have to admit, these are great storage for holiday goodies though.. just sayin'.

Let the bars come to room temperature to serve. They freeze nicely, so it's a good make-ahead for the sweets tray too, which is exactly what I did with mine. Well the ones I could wrangle away from The Cajun that is.

Here's how to make them.

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Recipe: Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep/Inactive time: 2 hours 30 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 24 bars


For the Roasted Pecans:
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of pecan halves
  • 1 cup of pecan pieces
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher or coarse sea salt
For the Crust:
  • 1-3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey's)
  • 2/3 cup of powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup of cold butter or vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
  • 1-1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Bars:
  • 3/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon, optional
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F to roast the pecans. Toss the pecans with the melted butter and roast on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until fragrant. Remove, sprinkle with salt, toss and transfer to paper towels to cool. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, leaving excess hanging over on the ends for handles; butter the foil and set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. For the crust, whisk together the flour, cocoa and powdered sugar; cut in the cold butter or shortening until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and slightly up the sides. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, remove and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Let rest a few minutes, then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly on the crust. Set aside to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Once crust has cooled, heat oven to 350 degrees F again. For the filling, whisk together the brown sugar and flour. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the eggs, corn syrup, vanilla, bourbon and butter. Stir in the roasted pecans. Pour into the cooled crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Let cool completely on a rack, about 1 hour, until cool enough that you can hold the pan in the palm of your hand. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator to chill for another hour. Use the aluminum foil to lift out of the baking pan, let rest at room temperature until pliable enough to cut into bars.

Cook's Notes: Add just a tiny pinch of cayenne or Cajun seasoning to the butter before tossing the nuts for toasting. Just like pecan pie, hand mix and don't over-beat the filling or it will be runny. Don't try to shortcut the cooling process - you really need it to let the filling set well before cutting into bars. I cut these into squares and store them in a covered container in the refrigerator, layered with wax paper, and bring them to room temperature before serving. Also good with a cup of shredded, sweetened coconut added along with the pecans to the filling. May be frozen.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
Inspired by Southern Living Magazine September 2012
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Posted by on December 4, 2012
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