Rocky Road Bars

If you’re craving something rich and decadent but don’t want to exert too much effort, these Rocky Road Bars are made for you. A buttery shortbread cookie is slathered with dark chocolate ganache, and toasted pecans and marshmallows are piled high on top.

Even with just the shortbread and chocolate ganache, this is looking pretty delicious.
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Toasted pecans and mini marshmallows leave no surface uncovered.IMG_6519[1]

A close up of a Rocky Road Bar because it tastes as good as it looks. IMG_6521[1]

Rocky Road Bars

Makes 2 dozen bars
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup (16 tablespoons; 8 ounces; 2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (9 3/4 ounces) All-Purpose Flour

Topping

3 cups (18 ounces) chopped semisweet or dark chocolate or chocolate chips
3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
1 cup (3 3/4 ounces) toasted diced pecans
3 cups (5 1/4 ounces; half a 10.5-ounce package) mini marshmallows

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, or line with parchment and grease the parchment.

Crust

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Mix in the flour. The dough will seem very dry, and won’t seem to want to become cohesive at first. Just keep mixing it, and it’ll eventually come together.
  3. Press the dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingers or a mini rolling pin (pastry roller). The dough will feel stiff, but just keep pressing on it until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan.
  4. Prick the dough all over with a fork; this will keep it from bubbling up as it bakes.
  5. Bake the crust for 30 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden brown around the edges and beginning to brown on the top. Remove it from the oven, and loosen the edges with a heat-resistant plastic knife or a table knife.

Topping

  1. Make the topping while the shortbread begins to cool.
  2. Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan. Heat in the microwave, or over low heat on a burner, until the cream is steaming and barely beginning to form bubbles.  Remove from the heat, and stir. The chocolate will gradually form a lump in the center of the bowl, then will start to expand as it absorbs the cream. Eventually the chocolate and cream will become one; keep stirring until it’s very smooth. If all the chocolate doesn’t seem melted, reheat very briefly, and keep stirring.
  3. Using and offset spatula, spread the warm chocolate on top of the cookie crust.
  4. Sprinkle the marshmallows and then the pecans over the chocolate. Lightly press down so that they stick to the chocolate.
  5. Cover the pan, and place the bars in the refrigerator for about 15 to 20 minutes, to set the chocolate a bit.
  6. Using a sharp knife or baker’s bench knife, cut 2″ bars.

Note: Leftovers can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. Freeze for longer storage; but these bars are tastier fresh than frozen and thawed.

Chocolate Oatmeal Crunch Bars

I have a 528 page cookbook devoted solely to cookies (and their derivatives).  So, when it comes to choosing one recipe to make on busy a weeknight, the recipe has to meet a few strict criteria including having high impact (i.e., being extremely tasty and looking especially fetching) and being easy to make (no fancy equipment or ingredients needed).  These Chocolate Oatmeal Crunch Bars fit the bill perfectly with their chewy, brown sugary oatmeal bottom topped with semi-sweet chocolate and a sprinkle of pecans.  They taste a little like a candy bar version of a granola bar.

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Chocolate Oatmeal Crunch Bars

Makes about 48 one-and-a-half-inch squares
(from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion- The Essential Cookie Cookbook)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

Crust

4 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) rolled oats
1 cup (8 ounces) brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (8 1/4 ounces) light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Topping

2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips
2 tablespoons (3/4 ounces) vegetable shortening
2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) chopped nuts [I like pecans]

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan or a 14-inch round deep-dish pizza pan. [I didn’t have a pan this size, so I used an 11×17 inch pan, BUT I didn’t spread the crust all the way to the edges of the pan because it would have been too thin.  Instead, I lined the pan with parchment paper (making sure the parchment went up the sides of the pan), spread the crust to approximately 10×15 inches, and used dried beans (that I usually use for pie weights) to fill in the empty space in the pan so that the crust would not spread too much.]

Crust

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the oats, sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt.
  2. Press the mixture into the prepared pan, using lightly greased hands (or the greased bottom of a loaf pan).
  3. Bake the crust for 10 to 14 minutes, or until it’s a light golden brown.  The crust will bubble up as it bakes.
  4. Remove from the oven, and cool completely on a rack.

Topping

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan set over low heat, or in a microwave, melt the chocolate chips and shortening together, stirring until smooth.
  2. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the cooled crust, and sprinkle on the nuts.
  3. Cover and loosely chill the bars in the refrigerator, and cut into squares.

Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

I love carrot cake, and it’s not just because of the thick layer of rich cream cheese frosting.  This recipe for carrot-pecan loaf cake is for the carrot cake purists as it’s so packed with flavor that it doesn’t need any frosting to make it totally irresistible.  The brown sugar topping provides a nice crunch and just a shot of sweetness which makes this hearty cake perfect for breakfast, snacking, or dessert.
Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit2
A closeup shot of all the goodness.  Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit7

Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

(from Bon Appetit)
Makes one 9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients

1 cup canola oil, plus more
1¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; plus more
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups or 2 1/2 large carrots)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  3. Whisk baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and 1 ¼ cups flour in a small bowl.
  4. Toss raisins, walnuts, and remaining 1 Tbsp. flour in another bowl.
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  6. With mixer running, gradually drizzle in 1 cup oil,
  7. then add vanilla.
  8. Fold in dry ingredients, raisin mixture, and carrots;
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  11. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 65–75 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Bake up to 2 days ahead. Store wrapped at room temperature.

Caramel Pecan Bars

Looking for a passive-aggressive way to tell someone they’re nuts?  Give them these Caramel Pecan Bars and tell them, “I thought of you while baking these.”  These bars are the nuttiest bars I’ve come across with 6 cups (!!!) of pecans in the recipe. I only had 3 cups of pecans, so I halved the recipe.  The result was chewy, nutty, caramely, pecans riding atop a buttery, shortbread crust.  This may be one of the sweetest ways to throw some shade.

Caramel Pecan Bars- All the good cookies1

Caramel Pecan Bars

(from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer – All the Good Cookies by Gretchen Holt-Witt)
Makes 6 dozen squares

Ingredients

Crust

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
6 cups pecans
1/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil.

Crust

  1. Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, and beat until everything is incorporated.
  4. Press the dough into the bottom of the foil-lined pan.  Set the pan aside while you make the filling.

Filling

  1. Put the butter, honey, and sugars in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the pecans, cream, and vanilla
  3. Pour the filling over the crust, and transfer the pan to the oven.
  4. Bake until set and deep brown, 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  When cool, remove from the pan and cut in 72 pieces.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.