Rick Bayless' Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
Frontera Grill's Bar Version of Its Signature Dessert
This recipe is a bar version of the Chocolate Pecan Pie that's been the signature dessert at Frontera Grill for well over two decades. We've replaced the flaky crust with a sweet-salty-buttery pretzel crust that I think is perfect for these luscious bars. Come to think of it, with these bars being so gooey-rich, you may want to cut the squares crosswise into triangles, so people can enjoy just a biteful at a time.
Toast the pecans and prepare the crumb crust. In a 325-degree oven, toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet until noticeably darker and toasty smelling, about 10 minutes. Let the pecans cool to lukewarm (but keep the oven heated), then coarsely chop them by hand 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces make luxurious-looking bars. Scrape into a large bowl.
Use a food processor to chop the pretzels into fairly fine crumbs. (You should have 2 cups of crumbs.) In a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave at 50% power, melt 2 sticks of the butter. Scrape into the processor, along with the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Pulse until everything is combined.
Butter the bottoms and sides of two 8 x 8-inch baking pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of each pan, then press firmly in place. Butter the parchment paper. Divide the crumb mixture between the two pans and pat into an even layer covering the bottom completely.
Make the filling. To the pecans, add the two chocolates and the flour. Stir to combine, then divide evenly between the two pans. In the small saucepan or microwave at 50% power, melt the remaining 2 sticks of the butter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup or corn syrup mixture and vanilla, and beat at medium-low speed (if your mixer has a choice, use the flat beater). Slowly add the melted butter, mixing until the batter looks smooth. Divide the batter between the two pans, pouring it slowly and evenly over the surface to ensure even distribution of the chocolate and pecans through the batter.
Bake, cool and serve the bars. Slide the pans into the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the center is almost firm. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until firm for easy cutting. Use a small knife to loosen the sides, then turn out. Cut into 2-inch squares. Keep your Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars stored in the refrigerator until just before serving. Transfer to a serving platter, dust with powdered sugar, carry to your guests and await the moans of pleasure.
Makes 32 2-inch bars
*Recipe courtesy of Ricky Bayless from "Fiesta at Rick's: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends"; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.; 2010