Few things in life are truly worthy of a two-syllable damn.
These Chocolate, Bourbon and Pecan Pie Bars are definitely on that list.
Each one has a buttery, brown sugar shortbread crust topped with this beautiful mess of a filling that crackles right on the top. The filling is gooey, like you’d expect a pecan pie filling to be, but the chocolate give it a luxuriousness that you won’t find with corn syrup. If you’re a texture person, like me, you’ll love that pecan crunch and the chewiness of the coconut.
And then there’s the bourbon.
Of course, the bourbon is completely optional, but it does make the flavor of the bars more complex and cuts the sweet, which is no small task.
Making the bars couldn’t be easier – you mix the crust in a stand mixer, and stir the filling by hand – but slicing them can be tricky. What works for me is to let them cool to room temperature in the pan, and then chill them in the refrigerator before you cut into them. If you slice the bars at room temperature, they’ll break and get runny. But if you chill them, you’ll be able to make nice, clean cuts with a sharp knife or bench scraper.
Don’t worry when the tops of the bars shatter. They’re meant to be cracked.
I love the bars fully loaded, but if you’re craving a more traditional pecan pie experience, just leave out the chocolate and bourbon.
These bars would make a great Thanksgiving dessert, since they’re ridiculously easy, they can be baked in large quantities at once. and they can be sliced ahead of time. Plus, you won’t have to wonder whether your pecan pie filling is going to set up or run like the Mississippi.
Wait, did I just mention Thanksgiving?
Pass the bourbon. And another pie bar.
Chocolate, Bourbon and Pecan Pie Bars
Adapted from Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen”
To double the recipe, use a 12 by 17-inch baking dish.
Makes about 15
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/8 cup bourbon (optional)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup pecan halves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking spray, and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Spray or butter the parchment.
- For the Crust: Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium for about 1 minute. Add the sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until evenly incorporated but still crumbly. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes, until it has darkened to a deep golden brown.
- For the Filling: Place the chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter in a bowl or glass measuring cup, and melt it in the microwave. Let it cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and brown sugar until blended.
- Stir in the cooled chocolate, bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour and salt.
- Stir in the coconut and pecans.
- Pour the filling over the cooled crust, spreading evenly. Bake until set, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cool thoroughly, at least 30 minutes, in the pan. Then chill the bars in the refrigerator before cutting into 3-inch squares. Store bars in the refrigerator.
Storage: Wrapped airtight, these bars will keep in the freezer for up to three weeks.