Hello! We are moving into pecan pie season, and I have some amazing pecan pie bars for you! Every word in the title is an adventure. They are not only chocolate, not only bourbon, not only salted, but salted chocolate bourbon pecan bars. This is everything I want in a pecan pie in one place.
I’ve been thinking for a while about what Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts I wanted to make for this year. And I knew I wanted to make cranberry orange cupcakes (which I did!), some sort of pear dessert (I have an awesome pear tart coming up), and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie.
But then I thought, okay I have a tart, how about turning that pie into a bar cookie??? Whereupon, though I love pecan pie, I got all excited to try something new to me. Since I’ve gone all these years without making pecan bars.
Can you believe it? Me neither! Happily I have now corrected that oversight.
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So I pulled out my favorite shortbread crust recipe, and then started flipping through my cookbooks to see how exactly a pecan pie bar is made, since I knew it was going to be different from a pie, in quantities if not in the ingredients list. Sure enough pecan bars use a lot less filling, less butter and less eggs, in comparison to the pecans. Makes sense since a bar cookie needs to be sturdier and denser than a pie.
After a little bit of going back and forth and thinking about what I wanted, I ended up using the pecan bar recipe from by the Baking Illustrated cookbook (which seems to be out of print – however the recipe is also in the newer Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book) as my base recipe. While I’m sure it’s a lovely recipe as is, I have my own ideas on what flavors I want. 🙂
First of all, chocolate. There was no doubt I would be adding bittersweet chocolate to recipe. No doubt. 😀 So I reduced the amount of pecans and added chocolate to mix.
Second, maple syrup. I’m a New England girl and I need my maple syrup. While it can be a bit strong (and expensive) to go all maple, I knew I could bring in the flavor by switching a little of the corn syrup out. Two tablespoons turned out to be just right!
Third, salt. We have all discovered salted caramel and salted chocolate and always loved salted nuts, so this seemed obvious to me. Here we have nuts, chocolate, and caramel-y filling. We need salt! And I bought some flaked sea salt recently. A pinch or two really amped up the flavors. (Yes, you will probably see flaked sea salt in my recipes now. 🙂 )
And then, to finish them off, more chocolate! The chocolate drizzle I used over my chocolate baklava is easy to make and gives the pecan bars some great visual appeal. I drizzle it on with my squeeze bottle (I have the Kuhn Rikon Decorating Kit). *zip* *zip* and I’m done! The drizzle flows well while it’s warm and sets up fairly quickly once you’ve finished.
After my time of looking at my cookbooks and making notes on what I wanted to do, now all I had to do was make them.
I’ve been a busy bee making all sorts of recipes and we don’t need a whole recipe of pecan bars in the house, especially since I’d be making them at least twice since I need to test them before I take my photos and call them done.
And then it hit me. My neighbors were hosting a neighborhood dinner party (we have a tiny neighborhood – all of 5 houses 🙂 ) and I certainly didn’t want to show up empty handed, which meant that was perfect time to make my test batch and have a bunch of tasters.
In less than an hour I went from ‘I should make these’ to having them cooling on a rack in my kitchen. An hour after that I pulled them out of the pan and popped them in the fridge to cool fast so I could cut them before the party. Much quicker than pie!
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
It's time to bake some rich and gooey holiday dessert for Thanksgiving and Christmas! I love these chocolate bourbon pecan bars featuring bittersweet chocolate, a touch of maple syrup, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a shortbread crust.
- 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (1 oz) confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 tsp table salt, or 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 8 tbsp (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) chopped pecans
- 4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 3/4 oz) light corn syrup
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp bourbon, or light rum
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup (4 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 1-2 pinches flaked sea salt, optional
- 1/2 cup (3 oz) bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x9 baking pan with either parchment paper or aluminum foil, leaving some overhanging the sides to use as a sling. Grease the pan well.
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Using either a food processor or your fingers work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is completely worked in, you have no dry flour, and the mixture clumps easily.
Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and press it firmly into an even layer on the bottom. (I use the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup.) Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until light brown.
Spread out the pecans on a baking sheet. Slip the baking sheet into the oven while the crust is baking and toast the pecans for 5 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Once it is smooth and well mixed, add the egg and whisk that in. Set the filling aside until the crust is baked.
When the crust is done, scatter the chocolate chips over the hot crust. Then pour the filling over, giving it a shake if needed to even it out. Top with the toasted pecans and press them in a bit with the side of a spatula.
Bake the pecan bars for 22-25 minutes, until the top is browned, the edges are bubbling, and it still jiggles when you shake it. Transfer the pecan bars to a cooling rack and let them cool in the pan for 1 hour. While they are cooling, sprinkle the bars with a pinch or two of flaked sea salt.
After an hour, loosen the bars from the sides of the pan as needed and pull them out using the handles on the liner. Let the bars finish cooling on the rack to room temperature.
Put a medium pot on the stove and fill with an inch or two of water. Bring the water to a simmer. Take a heatproof bowl which fits over the pot and fill it with the chocolate chips and butter. Once the chocolate is nearly melted, take it off the heat, put it on a kitchen towel, and stir with a spatula until the chocolate is smooth.
Drizzle with the chocolate drizzle and cut it into 24 bars (6x4 grid). If you are concerned about the bars cutting neatly, put the pecan bars into the refrigerator and chill them completely before cutting. Store in a sealed container for up to 5 days.
- Filling inspired by the pecan bars in Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.
- Measuring flour: When measuring dry ingredients, especially flour, I measure by weight using my Salter kitchen scale. If I don't have my scale, I use the scoop and sweep method where I dip the measuring cups in the flour, scoop up some, and sweep off the excess.
- Corn syrup: No corn syrup? You can use agave nectar, Lyle's golden syrup, or cane syrup. Or go for all maple syrup - though note that maple syrup has a strong flavor which you may or may not like in larger quantities.
- Bourbon: My husband believes the bars need more bourbon, while I think it has enough and I would hesitate to add more to the filling since that may throw off the balance. Instead, a great idea would be to make some Bourbon Whipped Cream to serve with the bars.
- Lining the Baking Pan: I prefer foil here since I want a liner which conforms to the shape of the baking pan. Just don't cut it on the foil. Move the bars to a cutting board and slip them off the foil first.
- Chocolate Drizzle: I used my Kuhn Rikon Decorating Kit to drizzle the bars.
A Day in the Life of My Pets:
My cat, Starbuck, loves to sit on the kitchen chairs at my island and make sure I’m doing right. 🙂