Last year's winner of the Texas Co-op Power Holiday contest was called Ultimate Chocolate Pecan Pie. I must have baked that pie at least 10 times, and it was incredible! One of the things I liked best about it was the little kick of heat from the cinnamon and cayenne. Craving those flavors, I made a more casual version called Texas Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.
The original pie on Texas Co-op Power is totally worth making and is different from these bars. It calls for a lot more butter, includes maple syrup and has ground pecans in the crust. For these less-involved chocolate pecan pie bars, I used a Land o’ Lakes pecan pie bar recipe as the base, but enhanced the flavor with a little salt, cayenne and cinnamon, so all in all it's a fairly straightforward pecan pie bar with a flavor twist.
For the chocolate chunks I used Trader Joe's brand, but Nestle's would work well as would plain old dark chocolate chips. These freeze well and are easy to slice and wrap individually when chilled. As for the heat, they did have a little, but my cayenne had been in the pantry for a while and I would have preferred even more heat. Next time I'll make them with very fresh cayenne.
Texas Style Pecan Bars
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup corn syrup
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper fresh for more heat
- 1.2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups good quality chocolate chunks
- 1 ¾ cups coarsely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13 inch metal pan with nonstick foil or parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar and salt together thoroughly. Add softened butter and mix until uniformly crumbly; press evenly into pan and bake for 12 minutes.
- While crust bakes, using the same mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, eggs, salt, 2 tablespoons melted butter, vanilla, cayenne and cinnamon. Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts.
- Pour evenly over hot, partially baked crust. Continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool completely, then chill thoroughly before lifting from pan and slicing.