I’ve said it before and I’m gonna say it again: living in the South has really opened my eyes to foods that I never tried before. While growing up in Central Florida, in a Hispanic/Jewish/German family, we just didn’t eat a lot of the traditional American foods. One of those foods: pecan pie.
I first tried pecan pie when I moved to Atlanta 5 years ago. It was at a great local Southern restaurant and they served a killer bourbon chocolate pecan pie. I liked it but I didn’t fall in love with it right away. It was made with whole pecans so it was just too crunchy for me. But I loved the custardy, sweet filling with swirls of chocolate. The texture was gooey and I love gooey. So I didn’t give up hope yet.
Sure enough, a local grocery store makes a version with chopped pecans and it was money! So so so good. The pecans were small enough that they roasted during baking and became slightly soft, not too crunchy. And that gooeyness from the filling and richness from the chocolate were still there. Every bite was perfect. And that’s when I became an official fan of pecan pie.
Which brings us to today’s recipe: chocolate pecan pie cheesecake bars. I’m always looking for a new way to make some of my favorite things. I knew I wanted to give ya’ll (it’s the Southerner in me taking over again) a chocolate pecan pie recipe, but how could I make it slightly different? Make them in bars? Add cheesecake? Make the crust out of shortbread? Yes, yes, and yes!
When I tried the finished product, I was in shock. They were absolutely more than I ever thought they would be. The shortbread crust is so buttery and crunchy, but in a good way. Just like a shortbread cookie. The cheesecake adds a tangy, smooth layer that I didn’t even know it needed. But the best part: all three layers come together to make such a well-balance bar, with textures and flavors that compliment each other so well.
Now, I know there are people that are like me – didn’t love or maybe didn’t even like pecan pie when they first tried it. But don’t let that stop you from making these bars! I’m telling you that the combination of the three layers will change your mind.
Here are some tips for insuring that these bars come out perfectly:
- Buy the pecans already chopped. It will save you tons of time. But! For the shortbread crust, you will need to chop the pecans even more because they need to be fine. Since these pecans are for the crust, you don’t want large chunks of pecans spread throughout; you want small little pieces.
- Make sure the layers are cooled about 10 minutes before adding the next layer. Otherwise, the layers could blend together.
- Let the melted butter for the chocolate pecan pie layer cool before you add the eggs. Otherwise, you’ll get scrambled eggs. Yikes.
- Bake the final layer (the chocolate pecan pie layer) until it is complete done. You’ll know when it’s done because it will be dark in color and no longer a light brown. I took mine out too soon and they were a little too gooey in the middle. So let them completely finish before taking them out. If the edges begin to get too brown before the center is done, add aluminum foil to the edges.
- Let the bars cool completely before you cut them . Otherwise, they will fall apart. I put mine in the fridge to help them set up. And make sure, when you do cut them, you use a sharp knife so the edges are nice and smooth.
- I like to store mine in the fridge because it makes the cheesecake layer dense, which I prefer. If you leave them at room temperature, the cheesecake layer will be softer and smoother. I wouldn’t keep them at room temperature for too long (for entertaining purposes is fine). But it’s safer to keep them in the fridge for long-term storage.
Now you’ve got the tools you need to make these amazing chocolate pecan pie cheesecake bars! I hope you love them as much as I do 🙂
Here are all the kitchen tools and serveware that I used in today’s recipe. For each item sold below, I make a small commission. I only recommend items that I own and love so you can trust that each recommendation is tried and true. Thank you for supporting CPA!