Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars


I realized while I was mentally writing the blog entry for these bars that I had forgotten to tell you all a couple of exciting news items (no, I am not pregnant).

The first exciting-to-me thing is that I defended my senior seminar project (like a thesis) and received Honors on it. Sometimes, as a student, papers can be good or they can be finished, but I was very proud of the effort I put into it and am glad other people were impressed by it as well.

The second thing is that I’m going to be the camp chaplain at an Episcopal camp here in Tennessee this summer! I never was much of a camp person growing up, but I’m really looking forward to it. It will be great experience for me, and everyone I know who is affiliated with this camp cannot say enough good things about it. After the whirlwind of finishing up Divinity School, it will be a welcome change to be caught up in the whirlwind of kids and camp and nature and living on the mountain. And it would be a lie if I didn’t think about how awesome the running and hiking is going to be!

And it’s relevant to these bars, you see, because I made them for my first face-to-face meeting with the camp co-directors. I offered to bring a dessert to our meeting but quickly realized I had no idea what I wanted to make – something low-key and not fussy but not boring either. In retrospect, I should have made my favorite camp-type treat: No-Bakes! These came together faster than cookies and are a more health conscious option than many desserts since they contain whole wheat pastry flour and a mix of butter and oil. Initially, the dough was crumbly, but once I pressed it into the pan, it behaved just fine. The flakes of kosher salt add a lot of delicious salty flavor, balancing the chocolate and nuts. I was tempted to take Food & Wine’s suggestion of adding dried cranberries to the mix but decided that might be overkill. Maybe next time!


Chocolate Chip-Pecan Bars
source: Food & Wine Magazine
Yields 24-32 bars


1 cup pecans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Chop the pecans and let cool.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; beat the dry ingredients into the mixer at low speed. Add the chocolate chips and pecans; beat just until incorporated.
  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and nearly set in the center. Let cool completely, then run a knife around the edges and invert the rectangle. Peel off the paper and invert onto a cutting board. Cut and serve.