My lovely husband recently crossed the threshold into official “mid-30’s”-dom. We were able to celebrate on his actual day with his family back in his hometown in Southern Illinois and so I knew I could count on his dear mother to make him his favorite dessert – pineapple upside-down cake [made in a cast iron skillet, natch!].
To make sure I didn’t step on any toes but still bake some sweets for my sweetie [awwww..] I sleuthed out what Jeremy’s second favorite dessert was – chocolate-pecan pie. Since I haven’t ventured into making my own pie crust and was already in my pajamas [meaning, no running to the Kreepy Krogs around the corner to see if they might have some non-dodgy pre-made pie crusts available], I got to googling and discovered Deep South Dish‘s Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.
I tweaked just a few things from the original recipe. I love using King Arthur Flour‘s Midnight Cocoa in place of regular Dutch-processed cocoa. It makes your desserts all that much richer, chocolate-r and less sweet [which is my personal preference]. I also added the optional bourbon [yes, puhleese!] as well as the suggested shredded coconut.
The next time I make these, and there will definitely be a next time, I’ll probably skip the coconut and bourbon and add some cayenne pepper to the mix when toasting the pecans, as well as adding some large flake sea salt to the top of the mix pre-baking to add a bit of a savory edge to the pie.
Do you have a favorite dessert you usually have on your birthday? What is it? I’d love to know!
Coconut Bourbon Pecan Pie Bars
yield : 1 9×13 dish / 12-16 bars
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup [1/2 stick] unsalted butter
2 tsp kosher or coarse sea salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup midnight/black cocoa powder [like this version from King Arthur]
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 heaping TBSP all-purpose flour
3 eggs, large [lightly beaten]
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter, pour over pecans and toss to coat evenly. Spread buttered pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, stirring about halfway through.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and let cool to room temperature.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Line a 9×13 baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving excess hanging over the ends to help with the bar removal after baking. Butter foil generously and set aside.
Whisk together flour, cocoa and confectioners’ sugar. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Press crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, making sure to go slightly up the sides [about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch].
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips and return to oven for 3-4 minutes to begin melting the chips. Remove from oven and, using an offset spatula, spread melted chocolate evenly over crust. Set aside to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and flour. Stir in eggs, corn syrup, vanilla extract, bourbon and softened butter. Finally, stir in toasted pecans and coconut.
Pour pecan-coconut mixture on cooled crust and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool on rack, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to refrigerator to chill and set for another hour.
Using aluminum overhang, remove bars out of baking pan and cut into bars of desired size. [I did 12 3×3-ish sized bars, 3 rows of 4 bars].