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Kentucky Derby Chocolate-Pecan Cookie Bars
18-19 min. (plus cooling)
- 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 ( I use the smallest one from this set), 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.
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.