When I asked what kind of pie is on your holiday tables in December, you had so many delicious suggestions. Chocolate and pecan, in their many different variations, were the most mentioned. So that’s where I found inspiration for these bars, which are easy to make and everything you love about pecan pie, with the addition of a rich chocolate layer, and sweetened condensed milk (no corn syrup) poured over the top before baking. The simple pat-in-the-pan crust has pecans in it as well for depth of flavor, and lard makes it very flaky.
I find pie bars to be less intimidating than making pie, and the results are just as delicious. I decided to streamline a typical pecan pie by making a pat-in-the-pan pie crust, using sweetened condensed milk for rich flavor, and adding a single egg to help bind the filling and slightly lightening the rich condensed milk. Bourbon is optional, but also helps cut the sweetness and adds great flavor. Additionally, these bars pack well for holiday cookie boxes.
Lard Makes Great Pie Crusts
Lard has a lot of advantages in pastry making. It’s ideal for pie crusts (sweet or savory), as it makes a great non-hydrogenated alternative to shortening. It blends into the dry ingredients of pie crust easier than butter, and browns beautifully. Because it has a higher melting point than butter, it’s also easier to work with. I also use lard for the crust on this Chocolate Meringue Pie recipe and love how light and flaky it is.
Storing Pecan Pie Bars:
These bars can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to two weeks. Place the bars in the refrigerator the night before serving. Bars can be served cold or at room temperature.
More Bar Recipes:
- Coffee Blondie Bars
- Raspberry Rhubarb Streusel Pie Bars
- White Chocolate Cheesecake Bars
- Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
- 1 cup [142 g] all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup [50 g] granulated sugar
- ¼ cup [30 g] toasted pecans
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup [65 g] lard
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
- One 14 oz can [395 g] sweetened condensed milk
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup [170 g] semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 ½ cups [180 g] pecans toasted and chopped into bite-sized pieces, divided
- 2 oz  bittersweet chocolate chopped into bite-sized pieces
For the crust
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F [180C]. Grease and line an 8 in [20 cm] square baking pan.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, pulse together the flour, sugar, pecans, and salt until the pecans are broken down and ground. Add the lard and crème fraiche and pulse again until the lard is incorporated and the dough starts to come together. (This dough is very forgiving and you don’t have to worry quite as much about overworking it as you do a normal pie dough.) Put the dough into the prepared pan, and press and smooth the dough with your hands to an even thickness. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until the dough is no longer wet to the touch.
For the filling
- While the crust is baking, make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, egg, vanilla, bourbon (if using), and salt.
- Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate chips over it (be careful, the pan is hot!). Return to the oven for 2 minutes, then remove again and use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate into an even layer. Scatter 1 cup [120 g] of the pecans over the chocolate. Pour the filling evenly over the crust, then top with the remaining ½ cup [60 g] of pecans and bittersweet chocolate. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling barely jiggles in the center when the pan is shaken, 24 to 30 minutes (if the filling makes a waving motion when the pan is shaken, the bars need more time).
- Remove the bars from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack to cool. After 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges of the bars (if the sweetened condensed milk gets between the parchment lining and the pan at all, the bars will stick and can be hard to remove from the pan.) Refrigerate the bars for 2 hours or overnight, then slice and serve. Bars can be served cold or at room temperature.