I am super excited to share my latest blogging event with you guys! It is called Creative Cookie Exchange, and, well, I started it! This makes me feel extra brave, which probably makes you think I don’t get out much. I love Chocolate Party and Bundtamonth, and I really wanted a similar group for cookies. Maybe so I can justify how many of them I make. Whatever the reason, I really hope you will check out everyone’s cookies, and if you are a blogger who is interested in joining us, please get in touch with me.
The theme for our first Exchange is Back To School! Granted, this is not very restrictive, but it is fun. For me, Back To School means either super fun in a kid way (sprinkles!) or extra healthy in some way (whole grains! nuts!). I would not advocate making these Pecan Chocolate Bars for your child’s school event, because of nut allergies, but as long as your child can eat nuts, I think adding nuts and whole grains to cookies is one of the best ways to beef them up so that they are slightly less “empty caloric.”
I found the recipe in Maida Heatter’s Cookies, which I had picked up used recently. On the one hand, it does not have any photos and that is a bummer. On the other hand, Maida Heatter knows what she is doing and her recipes are classic. The recipe originally used walnuts, but other than that I did not change much. The only complaint I might have about the recipe is that it is huge. And honestly it is not much of a complaint because I just sent half the cookies into my husband’s class (don’t you wish you had a college professor with a spouse like me?). And I only did that because I was in danger of eating them all in an embarrassingly short span of time.
To join in the #CreativeCookieExchange fun, just complete the steps below:
1. Write a blog post with recipe and original photo with a Back To School cookie. We would like the recipe to be one you’re making for the first time, and photos must be original.
2. Post the Cookie Exchange logo somewhere on your blog post so others can join in the fun:
3. Make a good faith effort to visit and comment on the other cookies in the Linky party. We all love cookies so that should be easy!
4. LIKE the Creative Cookie Exchange Facebook Page
5. FOLLOW the Creative Cookie Exchange Pinterest Board
6. LINK your blog post below using the Linky tool
You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes–be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration for this month’s theme, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made so far:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies from It’s Yummi
Pumpkin Oatmeal Pecan Cookies from If I Ever Owned A Bakery…
- For the bottom/top dough:
- 2½ cups (315 g) AP flour
- 1 t baking soda
- ½ t salt
- 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 t instant espresso
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 7 oz (2 cups) roughly chopped pecans
- For the chocolate filling:
- 1 14 (or 15) oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 12 oz semi sweet chocolate (I used Sharffen Berger)
- 2 T unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 t vanilla
- Vanilla Salt for sprinkling on top of the bars
- Place a rack in the bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease (or line with silicone or parchment, which is what I did) a 15X10X1 jelly roll pan (cookie sheet). Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the instant espresso and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Add the sugar in 2 installments, beating to incorporate after each one. Add the vanilla and beat until lightened and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat to incorporate.
- Add the flour mixture and mix on the lowest speed until mostly incorporated. Add the oats and mix on low until mostly incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add 1 cup of the pecans and mix until everything is completely incorporated evenly (but do not overmix).
- Remove 2 cups of this dough and set aside.
- Press the remaining dough into your prepared jelly roll pan. It will take a moment because it is a large pan, but fear not it will all fit.
- Set the pan aside to work on the filling.
- I used a heavy bottomed pot and a very low heat and watched it carefully, stirring often--but if this makes you nervous use a double boiler. At any rate, melt the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, salt and butter together on very low heat. Stir until smooth and remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour this warm chocolate mixture over the dough pressed into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining dough in clumps over the chocolate--do not try to cover all the chocolate. Sprinkle the reserved pecans over the top. Then finish by sprinkling vanilla salt to taste over that.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Reverse the pan from front to back halfway through.
- Cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack before slicing. I used a bench scraper to cut nice slices without damaging my nonstick pan or the silicone mat.
- We did not need to store these in the fridge, but if your kitchen is particularly warm, you may need to store the bars in the fridge.
*As always affiliate links were used in this post. I only use affiliate links where I would be talking about and linking to a product anyway.