Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars
Adapted from Stephie Cooks
At Thanksgiving this year, I wanted a pecan pie, but nobody else did, so there were several pies, but no pecan pie and I was sad. I tried to enjoy the other pies, but I couldn’t help but dream that I had a slice of rich pecan pie. I don’t know why … I really do like other pies, but this year I wanted pecan pie and nothing else was going to do.
Well, I went home from Thanksgiving and then there was the rush of December … a whole month flew by and there were oh so many delicious foods and treats, but still that wish for a slice of pecan pie was lingering in the back of my mind. However, I typically only “make pies” when I’m with my family when Dad will make the crust for me and my daughter will make the edges all pretty and all I have to worry about is the filling.
Then Stephie brought by this Caramel Pecan Bars recipe to one of my foodie parties on facebook. I was immediately smitten with them. I wondered if they would quell what was by now a nagging craving for pecan pie. And then I knew these bars were definitely destined to happen when I discovered a very old can of sweetened condensed milk in my cupboard … I opened it to find that it had caramelized into a lovely, thick dulce de leche. Ah, that would be perfect for caramel pecan bars! I debated for a while whether there was enough … figured it was too thick and I needed to thin it … and also it needed some vanilla and salt and a bit of butter to give it a more rich caramel taste. I had my daughter taste it and she agreed it was wonderful. So I went ahead and made the crust, toasted the pecans and hoped beyond hope that this would yield the deliciousness that I sought.
They turned out marvelous. Rich beyond my dreams, a lovely buttery shortbread crust chock full of delightful pecans and salted creamy caramel with a bit of my favorite chocolate on top. I had one for breakfast for 3 days in a row, enjoyed a small one with my tea in the afternoon too. My family all loved them too … when I asked my dad and sister if they wanted to take home some of the desserts I had brought, this was the first one they grabbed and happily divided. I let them have them all the rest because that terrible pecan pie craving had FINALLY been satisfied and all was right in my world.
The funniest part of this story is that when I arrived at my mom and dad’s house for Christmas, there were two pies, and they were BOTH pecan. My sister had heard my wish, and had made pecan pie just for me. No other pies at all, just pecan. So I got a double dose of pecan pie for Christmas: my sister’s lovely pecan pie and these caramel pecan bars. Wishes really do come true.
- 3 cups pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small bits.
- 1 14-oz. can dulce de leche (here's a recipe from The Fountain Avenue Kitchen to make it in the slow cooker)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- Milk or fat-free half & half, as needed to thin the caramel
- 1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and set them in the oven for about 8 minutes or until they are fragrant. Remove from oven and set them aside.
- Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing the foil to go up the sides of the pan a bit, then spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flours with the powdered sugar, then add the butter and use a pastry cutter or your hands to mix the butter into the mixture until it is all fine crumbs with no large chunks of butter. Press this crumb mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown then set somewhere cool.
- Mix the dulce de leche with the vanilla, salt and butter and add a little milk or fat free half & half if it seems too thick. I added 2 - 3 Tablespoons of fat free half & half to mine because it was very thick. Pour the pecans into a medium mixing bowl and then add the dulce de leche and stir to coat all the pecans in the caramel.
- When the crust is completely cool, spread the caramel pecan mixture over the crust, then sprinkle with chocolate chips and a few whole pecans if you like.
- Bake at 350 F. for about 25 minutes. Allow the bars to cool completely, then pull the bars out of the pan by pulling the sides of the aluminum foil and cut into bars.
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck, The Weekend Re-Treat, Munching Monday, Mostly Homemade Monday, Simple Supper Tuesday, Treasure Box Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, The Gathering Spot and Hearth & Soul Bloghop.