Chocolate Pecan Bars

There is a very famous pie named after a very famous horse race that shall remain nameless. It combines pecan pie with chocolate chips and a splash of Bourbon (because it was invented in Kentucky and if it will sit still we will throw Bourbon in it in this state). My brother Donnie has always loved chocolate chip pecan pie, and I have been trying for years to improve on the classic. Made into bar form, this dessert becomes the perfect treat for your Derby Party or Holiday potluck. You can leave out the Bourbon if you feel so inclined, but I love the way the smoky, spicy flavor pairs with the orange. These little babies also keep really well, making them a staple in my Christmas cookie exchange basket.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 20 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 12 to 24 bars
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Ingredients

Crust:

Nonstick cooking spray

12 tablespoons (170 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced

2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

2 tablespoons sugar

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 2/3 cups (165 grams) pecans

1 cup (240 milliliters) honey

2/3 cup (145 grams) packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Bourbon

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. For the crust: Adjust the oven rack to the bottom position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  2. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33 centimeter) baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, letting the paper overhang the edges of the pan by a few inches on two sides (this will help you lift the bars out of the pan).
  3. In a food processor, pulse together the butter, flour, salt and sugar until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, gather together, and pat into a rectangle. Roll the dough into a rectangle 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick that measures about 13 by 15 inches (33 by 38 centimeters). Trim the rough edges and ease the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it onto the bottom and about halfway up the sides (trim the dough more on the sides as needed). Prick the dough a couple times with a fork. Cover with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the dough starts to set up, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake until the crust is just golden, about 5 minutes more. Let cool completely.
  4. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Spread the pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop.
  5. Beat the honey and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add in the melted butter and continue to beat. Add the flour, Bourbon, orange zest and vanilla. Sprinkle the pecans and chocolate chips over the crust and pour the honey mixture over the top. Bake until the top of the filling is golden brown and the center sets up, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover and put in the refrigerator until cool. When ready to serve, cut into 12 to 24 bars.
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