Two delicious vices that go incomparably well together. Now I’m not talking about chasing a handful of chocolate chips with a shot of Jim Beam…no wait, that sounds awesome too. In this case, however, these two marvelous ingredients are bound together by sugar, eggs, butter, and pecans. It’s essentially a handheld version of Derby Pie. Yes, the Kentucky Derby was last weekend, but my love of whiskey and chocolate lasts all year long.
This decadent concoction rests atop a crisp, buttery shortbread crust instead of the typical doughy pie crust. It’s the perfect solution for a dessert served at a party when you don’t want to deal with forks, plates, and superfluous slicing.
Two fabulous friends of mine throw an annual Derby party where the bourbon flows and the hats are large. Dessert was going to have to be epic to standout next too all that seersucker and wide brims. I knew I wanted all of the traditional Derby flavors to be present — chocolate, whiskey, and pecans — but with the ease and simplicity of a brownie.
The snappy, crumbly shortbread crust is the perfect base for the ooey gooy richness of the filling. It’s sort of like baking a fudgy brownie on top of a cookie, which sounds like pretty much the greatest thing int the world. The top bakes off into a flaky thin layer which is studded with pecans and swirled with melted chocolate. Each bite gives you sweet gooiness, bitter chocolate, and nutty flavor with a little heat from the whiskey like a boozey little after thought.
The recipe is from the adorably kitschy website The Kitchn, with a few modifications. Namely pecans instead of walnuts and an extra sprinkling of nuts and chocolate right on top, because you can never have too much chocolate and nuts. Or whiskey for that matter.
Derby Pie Bars
Recipe from The Kitchn
For the shortbread crust
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
For the filling
12 tablespoons (1 + 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey (or more to taste)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, plus more for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350°.
To make the crust, combine the powdered sugar, flour, and salt In the bowl of a food processor. Add cubes of butter and pulse until it resembles coarse cornmeal. (You can also use your fingers or a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter. Whatever is easiest for you.) Firmly pat the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Bake the crust for about 20 to 23 minutes until just lightly golden.
To make the filling, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, salt, and bourbon and continue to mix until well combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour batter over partially baked crust. Sprinkle with extra chocolate chips and pecans, because why not? Bake until filling is set and the top is light golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Allow bars to cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into 2-inch squares (or desired size).
Bars will keep in an airtight container for at least a week…but they are even better when they are still slightly warm. So slice ’em up, throw on a hat and dig in.