As I've posted about before, my mom and I have a tradition of hosting an annual cookie exchange before Christmas. My cookies this year were from Fine Cooking's Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More special holiday issue and they are called Pecan-Chocolate Bars. I personally don't find the chocolate flavor to be very noticeable, so I have re-christened them Pecan Pie Bars, and they are really excellent! They are also easy to make and freeze beautifully. Please let me know if you bake them and like them as much as I do =)
For the cookie base:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. table salt
2 oz. finely grated bittersweet chocolate (a scant 1/2 cup)
For the pecan topping:
10 oz. pecans (3 cups), toasted
1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. table salt
Make the cookie base: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Put the butter in a food processor, along with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until the mixture is well combined (about 20 pulses). Scatter the dough into a 9x9-inch baking pan and press it evenly over the bottom. (Wipe out the processor bowl but don’t bother washing it.) Bake the base until firm and lightly browned, about 25 min. When the cookie base comes out of the oven, sprinkle the grated chocolate evenly over the top. (Don’t turn off the oven.) Set the pan aside.
Make the pecan topping: As the cookie base bakes, pulse the pecans in the food processor until coarsely chopped. In a medium-size heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the dark brown sugar, honey, cream, and salt. Simmer for 1 min., stirring occasionally. Stir in the pecans. Pour the pecan mixture over the chocolate-sprinkled cookie base, spreading evenly. Bake until much of the filling is bubbling (not just the edges), 16 to 18 min. Let cool completely in the pan. When ready to serve, cut into 16 squares. Tightly covered, these bars will keep for about five days (though they never last that long).
The recipe above is straight from Fine Cooking, however, I made two minor modifications. I also used the food processor to grate the chocolate, no point dirtying another dish ;) and I toasted my pecans in the oven while the base was baking, it only took about 5 minutes. I also want to thank both Cooking With Caitlin's foodie chat #FNIchat and Fine Cooking for my gorgeous red KitchenAid food processor, it is completely indispensable and I don't know how I ever lived without it!