~ This incredibly easy, no-butter, bar cookie version of the always-popular Derby Pie is the perfect dessert for a weekday dinner or a party! Filled with whole grains, it’s fabulously decadent yet so nutritious! ~
This Recipe Is: • Make Ahead • Vegetarian •
I am a happy, happy food blogger when my taste-testing sessions go like this one did …
My son kinda closed his eyes in joyous delirium and said, “Best dessert. EVER.”
Ok. Solid start.
Ok, well. The ice cream is a whole ‘nother issue. But when a kid says something is worthy of being his birthday dessert … you know.
It seriously doesn’t get better than that.
But then it did!
Because then my husband tasted it and exclaimed, “I also want him to have that for his birthday!” (As he cut himself another piece … and another …)
And then my son, who is normally about the most genuinely compassionate, sharing child you could ever hope to meet, learned that I needed to pass along some of this creation to Gretchen’s family so they could try it. My previously oh-so-generous son didn’t even hesitate: “Only give them a little bit, ’cause we want it!”
No really, this is the kind of dessert you don’t want to share. Not even with good friends and people you like a whole lot. Even your besties just aren’t worth this.
Hide from them, and eat this all yourself.
I won’t tell. In fact, I encourage it. (Mostly because it will make me feel better about myself and my
sweet little son!)
With the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, I wanted one thing: to concoct an utterly delicious yet much healthier nod to the famed Derby Pie. I guess I succeeded. I apparently also turned my son into a ruthless, un-generous little hoarder … but that seems a small price to pay, really.
Good Derby Pie isn’t crumbly or crunchy like a cookie, but rich and luxurious and ultra-moist. Kind of like if the best chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever tasted and a gloriously decadent pecan pie had a love child.
Created at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, the original recipe for Derby Pie remains a closely guarded secret. But that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most iconic foods of the Kentucky Derby (well, besides Mint Juleps … but that’s another story).
This THK version is dense and rich and chewy … bursting with chocolaty, brown-sugary, pecan-y goodness. Love child, indeed.
Yet with not one bit of butter or even oil anywhere in sight. The technique is cribbed from my beloved Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies. They’re insanely good and, well … so are these.
Too good to share, sadly.
But that’s ok – the Derby only lasts for about two minutes, so there’s really no time to invite friends over, anyway.
Ah – problem solved, then.
We’d Love to Hear From You!
For birthdays, does your family prefer “traditional” cakes, or are you open to other favorite desserts, too? I used to spend hours creating Wilton-inspired cake extravaganzas, but lately we’ve embraced less-typical birthday treats, like tiramisu (and, apparently, these cookie bars!). Gretchen’s family has done everything from a sundae bar to ice cream cakes to traditional cakes … whatever the kiddos request. Head on down to the comment box at the very bottom of this post and tell us about your family’s traditions (and give us your thoughts on our Derby Cookie Bars!). We can’t wait to hear from you!
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Want More Easy, Healthy Cookie Recipes? You’ve Gotta Try Our:
- No-Bake Chocolate-Coconut Peanut Butter Bars
- Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Snack Bites
- Pistachio-White Chocolate (No Butter!) Butter Cookies
Kentucky Derby Chocolate-Pecan Cookie Bars
- 3/4 cup pecans
- 5 whole dried, pitted dates
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (see note)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped or crushed
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a mini food processor, process ¾ cup pecans and dates until fairly smooth (pulsing for about 3 minutes), scraping sides of processor occasionally as needed. (The consistency will not be totally smooth and will be a thick, slightly grainy paste like very, very thick natural peanut butter.)
- Transfer pecan mixture to a large mixing bowl and add ¾ cup brown sugar, egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes until very well incorporated, scraping bowl once or twice as needed.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring with a whisk to thoroughly combine.
- Add flour mixture to pecan mixture and beat on medium-low just until combined, about 1 minute (dough will suddenly thicken, come together, and cling to beaters). Do not over-mix. Dough will be sticky and very, very thick.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Press mixture into an 8x8 baking pan coated with cooking spray. (If you're having a lot of difficulty with the dough being too sticky, very slightly damp fingers will help.) Smooth top with a spatula or scraper.
- Firmly press remaining brown sugar and chopped pecans into dough.
- Bake for about 18-19 minutes. The bars will be only very slightly golden – do not over-bake by waiting until they are golden-brown or your bars will be dry.
- Cool completely before cutting.
- Store in an airtight container.
by Two Healthy Kitchens
Flour: If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour on hand, you can substitute ½ all-purpose flour and ½ regular whole wheat flour. However, we prefer the nutritional advantage of using all whole-wheat pastry flour, and our tasters also slightly preferred the taste of the version made with whole-wheat pastry flour.
Make-Ahead Option: These freeze beautifully. Wrap each bar in plastic and store in a zipper-bag in the freezer, then thaw individually when you want a quick dessert.