Holi-Baking With Friends: Pecan Pie Bars with an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Whoa! That post title was a mouthful. So is this recipe. In the best way possible. These bars have all of the joy of pecan pie, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip cookies, all rolled into one. Oh, and they just so happen to be gluten-free, and corn syrup-free, too. 

Your holiday season is about to get more magical, and here's how: pecan pie bars with an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie crust. 

These bars have some good stuff going on. Let me detail some of their selling points?

1. An oatmeal chocolate chip cookie crust, courtesy Among Friends Baking Mixes

(Among Friends = the sponsor of this post). Their "Suzie Q's" is probably my new favorite cookie mix. For one thing, they have no weird ingredients in their mixes, so when I read the side of the box, I was all like "whoa, this is regular baking stuff!". I suppose their tagline, which is "Free of the bad stuff", is spot on in that regard.  I also need to tell you that I love this mix because it includes NO RAISINS.

FACT: the world would be a better place if everyone put chocolate chips instead of raisins in oatmeal cookies. 

I should note: I am famous for loving gluten, and I am not 100% sure what wizardry removed gluten from this cookie mix, but I did not miss it one moment, and I don't think you will, either. 

2. A pecan pie topping that contains NO corn syrup.

Friends, I have done it. I've devised a simple pecan pie-like filling that has all of the gooey, all of the delicious, but none of the corn syrup. It's composed of a mixture of honey, water, and sugar. It comes together in mere minutes, and quite honestly, I don't know if I'll ever go back the corn syrup way, because this just tasted better. 

So, we've established that the two key elements of these bars are great, yes? But when the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie crust and pecan pie topping come together in baked matrimony, you've got something extremely special on your hands. 

Pecan pie bars with an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie crust

Makes 16 bars - printable version here

For the crust

  • 1 package (14.6 ounces) Among Friends "Suzie Q's" cookie mix (oatmeal chocolate chip cookies)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • pinch salt

For the topping

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups chopped toasted pecans 

Place a rack in the middle position of your oven, and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan. Place a sheet of parchment on the bottom of the pan, and grease that too. This will ensure easy release later.

Make the crust. Pour the cookie mix into a large, heatproof bowl. Set to the side for the moment. 

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, pour on top of the cookie mix in the bowl. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt, too (before mixing). 

Mix until the dough comes together into a crumbly mixture which can easily be clumped together, with no dry traces of flour evident. Who would blame you if you took a little taste? These mixes have no egg, and there's none added here, and you know what that means: won't kill you. 

Press what's left of your mixture (tee hee) evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Place the pan in the preheated oven, and bake for 10 minutes. The goal is not to cook it through, but to par-bake it so it has a superior texture when you bake again with the topping. Leave the oven on. 

While the crust cools, prepare the topping. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, honey, sugar, and water. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the mixture comes to a low boil. Reduce the heat, and allow the mixture to simmer and bubble, continuing to stir frequently, until it begins to thicken. For me, this took about five to seven minutes. What you're looking for is if you lift the spoon, the mixture seems reluctant to drip off. It's not as thick as honey, but it's close to the thickness of a syrup. 

Remove the mixture from heat. It may still be bubbling. That's ok. Wait til it stops bubbling, and stir in the vanilla. Right after that, stir in the eggs, whisking constantly as you add them to discourage scrambled eggs from forming in your mixture. 

Once combined, add in the pecans. Stir until evenly coated. 

Spread the mixture on top of your prepared and cooled crust. Be sure to spread it evenly, so that the pecans are evenly scattered across the surface. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set (the slightest jiggle in the middle is OK if the sides look totally done and toasty). 

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. These bars are super sticky if you try to cut right away, so do leave them time to cool before serving. To serve, use a very sharp knife to slice, and be sure to clean the knife between slices (once again: sticky!).

If you are what you eat, these babies are rich and sweet...so who could blame you for going one step further and serving with a little ice cream?

Happy holidays and holi-baking!