This cookie bar is a mix of buttery shortbread, caramel-like filling chock full of chopped pecans, and topped with chocolate chips, more pecans and a sprinkle of sea salt. It solves all your cravings in one bar. Salty/sweet/crunchy/gooey/soft...I mean it is one heck of well-rounded bar I would say! The recipe is adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction book.
It's actually a really easy recipe to make. And although it is a few steps...one leads into the other...leads into the next...and before you know it the hardest part is waiting for it to cool so you can eat it! I have made this bar more than any other and have had rave reviews every single time! It is definitely a tried and true keeper!
To get started, preheat your oven and line a 9x13 with parchment overhang (for easy removal). I find that sometimes parchment paper is finicky when you want it to hold in place. So I start by smearing a bit of butter or shortening in random spots in the pan where I want the paper to hold fast. Then I crumple the paper into a tight ball. Then I unravel and somewhat smooth it out. It holds the shape of the pan that way and you can press it into the corners and against the sides with the help of that buttered pan. Might not look pretty, but it gets the job done.
Make the crust first. Using a paddle attachment on a mixer, beat butter until smooth, about a minute. Add the sugar and beat until creamed, maybe 2 minutes. Add flour, vanilla, and salt and beat for another minute until combined. Scrape bowl if need to get the stuff from the bottom mixed in. The dough will be thick and soft.
Press the dough into the pan evenly and bake for around 15 minutes until it is lightly browned. You can hand chop the pecans while it is baking. Remove from oven and let it cool slightly. Do not turn off the oven as it is going back in.
Next, make the filling. Microwave butter and a can of sweetened condensed milk together to melt. Stir well and add most of the pecans. Leave about a 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top at the end. Pour the mixture all over the shortbread cookie crust and spread it out with a spatula so it reaches the edges. Pop it back in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes...until the filling is bubbly and light brown.
When you take it out of the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips and remaining chopped pecans all over the top. Push them in just a bit so they will stick and just slightly melt. No need to spread around. Optional...sprinkle with a wee bit of sea salt.
Let the bar cool completely before removing from pan and slicing. Otherwise the crust may not stay together for you.
Hope you enjoy this recipe!
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cookie Bar
3/4 cup room temperature butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Filling and Topping
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp butter
1 3/4 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
course sea salt for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 9x13 pan with overhanging parchment paper.
To make the crust: Using a mixer with paddle, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar. Beat until creamed together. Add flour, vanilla and salt. Beat and scrape bowl until combined. It will be soft and thick.
Press dough into prepared pan and bake until light brown in color. Around 15 minutes.
While crust is baking, chop pecans.
Remove crust from oven and allow to cool slightly while making filling. Do not turn off oven.
For the filling: combine the butter and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl. Melt 30 seconds at a time, stirring until smooth. 30 seconds to a minute max total.
Reserve 1/4 cup of pecans. Stir 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans into the creamy mixture. Pour over the cookie base and smooth with a spatula.
Pop back into the oven and bake for another 17 to 20 minutes until golden in color.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips and pecans all over the top while it is hot. Press in just slightly so they melt a little but hold their shape. Option...sprinkle with a wee bit of sea salt.
Allow to cool completely before slicing as the bars will hold together best that way. After slicing...store in fridge.