Whenever it comes up in conversation that I went to cooking school, people always ask what my favorite thing I learned to make is. That’s a tough one- it depends on the kind of food and whether health is a factor- but these cookie bars are always at the top of my list.
I was assigned this recipe on cookie day, and the finished product was a hit with everyone. They’re gooey and rich, but not cloyingly sweet, and the combination of chocolate chips, dried cherries and chopped pecans really gives them a hearty crunch and satisfying texture. Once again, I changed some ingredients and techniques to make them easier to create!
Chocolate Cherry Pecan Squares
Adapted from the Natural Gourmet Institute
Yields 16 squares
- For the crust:
- 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- For the topping:
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Generously grease a 9×9″ pan.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time, and continue to mix until well combined.
- Use your fingertips to press the crust mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan, then bake it for about 15 minutes, or until it’s just beginning to brown.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat together the sugar, flour, sea salt, vanilla and eggs. Stir in the pecans, cherries and chocolate chips.
- Pour the filling mixture evenly over the pre-baked crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake it for about 25 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the center is firm. Allow to cool completely before cutting!
And the very serious question of the day: cookies or cookie bars?