Frontera’s Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
This recipe is an adaptation of Bayless’s Salsas That Cook (Scribner, 1998). An authority on traditional Mexican cooking, Rick Bayless is a Chicago chef and restaurateur, Frontera Grill being one of his renowned eateries. For these bars, Bayless recommends that you line your baking pan with a carefully flattened piece of heavy-durty foil to help remove them. And chilling the bars first will make them easier to cut.
- 2 1/2 cups (about 10 ounces) pecan halves
- 1 cup (about 6 ounces) finely chopped Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra)
- 6 ounces (about 6 to 8 slices) fresh white bread, preferably cakey sandwich bread, broken into large pieces
- 1 cup (8 ounces) butter, melted
- A generous 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces not larger than ¼ inch
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup dark corn syrup (or you can use a mixture of corn syrup and molasses, sorghum, or Steens cane syrup)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet. Bake until richly browned and toasty, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then scoop into a food processor and coarsely chop by pulsing the machine on and off. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the nuts and put in a large bowl to use in the filling.
Add half of the Mexican chocolate to the nuts in the processor and pulse the machine to mix. Add the bread; process until everything is chopped to fairly fine crumbs. Add 1/3 cup of the melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Process just to moisten everything. Liberally butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan, then pat the crumb crust mixture evenly into the buttered pan. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
Add the remaining Mexican chocolate, the chopped semisweet chocolate, and the flour to the bowl with the reserved pecans.
In the food processor (you don’t even need to clean it), mix the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the corn syrup, pulse a couple of times, then add the remaining 2/3 cup melted butter, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the vanilla. Process to combine thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture over the pecan-filling mixture in the bowl, stir well, and scrape into the crust-lined pan, making an even layer.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until the bars have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan. Let cool to room temperature (and chill, if desired) before cutting into 2-inch squares.
To serve, dust the pie bars with powdered sugar and arrange on an attractive serving platter.
A classic pairing of like with like: Pair the sweetness and spice in this chocolate dessert with a sweet, spicy LBV (Late-Bottled Vintage) Port; recommended producers include Fonseca, Warre’s and Ramos-Pinto.