Have you ever wondered what a cross between a “Derby”, “Crack/Chess”, and Pecan Pie would be like? When I was preparing for my upcoming Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Ice Cream, I couldn’t get my mind and my growling stomach from the epic dream bar that was building inside of the sweetest spot of my recipe developing process. I just knew that there was the ultimate dessert bar that would fulfill every sugar lover out there. I wanted this dessert bar to emulate those similar pies while being in a “wow” spotlight of its very own. And so, my Chocolate Pecan Bars, simple in name while incredible in every way, were created!
These Chocolate Pecan Bars have a shortbread crust, a layer of dark chocolate that is then covered in a gooey, creamy, pecan dotted filling that settles into a crackling crust. These bars have it all, so Ritzy Chefs, let’s bake!
Whenever I use pecans in baking, granola, anything at all, I toast them first. Toasting the pecans give an extra boost in flavor, warmth, and aroma while bringing out the natural oil of the nut. I like to buy pecan halves and then give them a rough chop before toasting.
Make sure to watch them so they don’t burn! Once you get that toasty scent, they’re ready!
The Shortbread Crust
The shortbread crust I used in these Chocolate Pecan Bars is buttery, crumbly, and melts in your mouth as you bite. And here’s how you make it!
The first step of this shortbread crust is to combine powdered sugar, a sprinkle of sea salt, and flour into a large bowl. Once it’s mixed, cut up cold salted butter and toss it in. Then use either a pastry cutter or your hands to blend it all together until you get a pebble like mixture. Ever since I did my hand kneading for my Honey Oat Quick Bread, I have been skipping the gadgets and hand mixing dough of many kinds by hand. While a bit more work, it has shown me a new level of taste and texture!
Then you will butter up a 9 x 13 pan, and press this shortbread crust all over. And I mean get up on those edges if you want! That side crust gets crusty and brown and divine! Then bake it for about 18 minutes. You don’t want it to brown too much since the bars brown very quickly as they bake. We will get to that further down.
That Dreamy Filling
Meanwhile, as your shortbread crust is baking, you will get to work on the most addictive filling ever!
In a large bowl, add melted butter. While it is still warm, but not steaming hot, add in your sugars. You want the temperature to be warm so that it dissolves the sugar enough.
Then, you will add your eggs and egg yolks along with your vanilla. Note that Traditional “Derby” Pie does use Bourbon. We’re talking Kentucky after all! I didn’t use Bourbon for this recipe since I was making the batch for Bea’s school carnival. Check my notes in the recipe section for the incorporation of bourbon, as this is the stage you would add it.
Once this is whisked, you will add your heavy cream and powdered milk. Then whisk, whisk! And hello gorgeous!
At this stage it is already smelling so heavenly. Then add in your toasted pecans.
And wham, it got even better! Now set this beautiful batter aside for a moment.
The Chocolate Layer
Right on top of that warm crust, put an even layer of chopped up dark chocolate. Spread it and let it start to melt in. Now I’m hungry and ready to break into those bags of Chocolate Pecan Bars headed to the Carnival!
Chocolate Pecan Bars
Then you are ready to pour over that filling.
And spread it on.
We’re almost there. Almost! You will bake this for about 25 minutes before lowering the heat. As you will notice, the tops and edges do begin to brown fairly quickly. You can ever so loosely rest foil over the bars. Do not “cover” them. This is just a shield. We want to protect these Chocolate Pecan Bars at all costs, ok?! For the last 20-25 minutes you will lower the heat. When the bars have only the slightest movement when you do the shake test, then take them out to cool.
The shake test is important. When making pies or bars of this nature, don’t want runny bars or bars that are too cooked. You want that gooey yet set filling. What you want to do is check them when they start looking ready, like this. So you can see that they are browned around then crackly on top. When I gave the pan a shake, there was just a slight bit of movement in the very center.
These bars continue to cook while cooling. So let them cool for at least 2-3 hours, if not overnight. If you can wait that long, that is!
I could not wait! I dug into these the moment 2 hours had passed! They were still warm and I ate and went to sugar coma heaven, then went back for more! In hindsight, maybe I wouldn’t eat these immediately before bed again since I woke up at 4 am craving, needing just one more bite! And now I officially have a Chocolate Pecan Bar addiction!
And now that you got the unrefined pics, here’s that Instagram worthy photo that will really drive you wild! Make sure to tag me in your Kentucky Derby parties!! And be on the lookout for my upcoming Kentucky Derby Inspired Mint Julep Ice Cream on y YouTube channel!
Chocolate Pecan Bars
Chocolate Pecan Bars
Have you ever wondered what a cross between a "Derby", "Crack/Chess", and Pecan Pie would be like? These Chocolate Pecan Bars have a shortbread crust, a layer of dark chocolate that is then covered in a gooey, creamy, pecan dotted filling that settles into a crackling top crust.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 glass baking pan. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, flour, and salt. Then mix. Then, add in diced butter and use a pastry cutter or hands to blend until pebble like in texture.
Press mixture into bottom of pan and bake for approx. 18 minutes.
Chop and spread pecans on a baking sheet. Toast pecans at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes, until nutty aroma is released. Allow to cool while you work on filling.
In a large bowl, add melted butter and mix with sugars until sugars are almost dissolved. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Whisk well. Then add in the powdered milk and the heavy cream. Whisk again.
Add cooled pecans.
Spread chopped chocolate on top of warm crust. Then pour over the filling. Bake for 25 minutes at 350. Then turn oven down to 325. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, until filling is almost set with only a slight jiggle. Remember to lay foil loosely if it is browning too quickly, but don't let foil tighten over the bars. Let cool for at least 2 hours or overnight.
If you would like to incorporate Bourbon, add it when you add the vanilla.
Want to learn more about the famous Kentucky Derby Pie? Check it out here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derby_Pie
And check out these other Ritzy Recipes!