• Chocolate Pecan Shortbread Bars

    Chocolate Pecan Shortbread Bars

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    As a committed chocoholic, I am intrigued by the flavor profile of American Heritage® Chocolate and was excited at the prospect of using it in baked goods. I chose a hybrid recipe in which a shortbread crust is topped with a brownie batter with pecans placed on top. For extra luxury, I used the sweet, spicy pecans available in the Monticello Museum Gift Shop. I was very pleased with the performance of the chocolate. The spiciness came through but is in no way overwhelming.

    • For the crust:
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • For the topping:
    • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups large pecan halves
    • 6 oz. American Heritage® Chocolate Block
    Step 1

    For the crust, preheat the oven to 350° and line a 13-by 9-inch baking pan with foil, allowing it to extend 1/2 inch over the edge on both ends. Spray the foil with vegetable oil spray or rub with butter.

    Step 2

    Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar, flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press the dough into an even layer. Chill the dough for about 15 minutes, until firm.

    Step 3

    Bake the shortbread in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, until lightly golden.

    Step 4

    Make the brownie topping while the crust is baking. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside.

    Step 5

    In a large bowl cream the butter with the brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the flour, salt, vanilla, and the chocolate.

    Step 6

    Spread the chocolate filling over the shortbread crust and press pecan halves into the batter. Bake in the middle of the 350°F. oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is set. Do not over bake as you want the brownie layer to remain chewy. Cool completely and cut into 24 bars. The bars may be made 2 days in advance and kept in an airtight container.

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