Chocolate Chip Pecan Bar Cookies with Bourbon
April 15, 2021
What are your dream “everything” cookies? For me, it’s these bars, which combine chocolate chips, pecans, and toffee bits into a dough flavored with bourbon. They are baked all together like brownies, which means no chilling or shaping. And they are sooo chewy and gooey. So are you ready to dig into these chocolate chip pecan bar cookies?
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These started with bourbon. It’s one of my favorite secret ingredients to use in my baked goods. And in these, I basically use it as the main flavor, replacing what would normally be vanilla extract in a standard cookie recipe. Once I had that idea in my head, I just couldn’t shake it. I had to make bourbon cookies.
So I decided to pair the flavor with all my favorite bourbon complements. Chocolate, toffee, and pecans are perfect combinations, each pair on their own, and all four together. Each brings its own special feature to these bites, and it makes for a simple and sweet dessert table treat.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for these chocolate chip pecan bar cookies at your grocery store:
- Pantry: All-purpose flour, White whole wheat flour, Cornstarch, Baking soda, Brown sugar, Granulated sugar, Pecans, Toffee bits, Chocolate chips
- Spice Rack: Salt
- Fridge: Butter, Eggs
- From the Bar: Bourbon (I like Maker’s Mark)
- Equipment: 9×13 baking pan, Parchment paper, Mixing bowls, Whisk, Silicone spatula
Let’s Make Chocolate Chip Pecan Bar Cookies
I love making cookies, or in this case, cookie bars, because they are so easy. It’s always the same basic formula, which means you have the opportunity to get really comfortable with recipes. And of course, that leads to chances for experimentation.
So follow this recipe, and then change it up if you’d prefer. Try swapping out the mix-ins, replacing the bourbon with a different liquor, and playing around with how to serve or top these. But first, let’s start with my initial recipe so you can get it down.
These come together quickly, and since the dough doesn’t require any chilling, you can preheat your oven right away. Check to be sure there is a rack in the center as well. Then line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. I like to let it hang over the longer edges, so the bars are easy to lift out once done.
Grab two mixing bowls to start getting the ingredients together. In the first one, a medium bowl, whisk together both of the flours, along with cornstarch, baking soda, and salt until combined. If you don’t want to use white whole wheat, go ahead and replace it with all-purpose.
In the larger mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Like most cookie recipes, I am using both brown and granulated sugar here. The brown adds both flavor and moisture, while the white granulated sugar adds sweetness and helps with the crusting on the top.
Then mix in the eggs and bourbon until smooth. There is only a tablespoon of bourbon in this recipe, but you could probably get away with a little bit more if you need to. You can also replace it with a diluted vanilla extract if you prefer your cookies to be alcohol free.
Add the dry ingredients into the mixture, and fold in until just combined, and there are no large streaks of flour. Overmixing can cause your cookies that should be chewy and gooey to instead be tough and cakey. There’s no need to overdo it.
Fold in the chocolate chips, pecans, and toffee bits until distributed. If you’ve never had toffee bits, they are like the inside of a Heath or Skor bar, and also include almonds for a little extra crunch. The caramely toffee will melt as these bake and add a little extra sweetness.
I used semi-sweet chocolate chips in these. If you’d like a bit more variety in your chocolate texture, feel free to use chocolate chunks or a chopped bar of chocolate instead. You can also chop up the pecans as uniform or random as you’d like.
Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared pan. You can use the bottom of a measuring cup or an offset spatula to help you press it into an even layer. However, I like to use my fingertips to get into the edges and corners.
Then put the cookie bars in the oven. And honestly, most of the hard work is done for these. Now we just need to have a little patience. The cookie bars are done when they appear dry at the edges, but still somewhat underdone in the middle. However, you can use a toothpick test to double check. When inserted into the center, it should come out clean.
Remove the cookie bars from the oven and set aside on a trivet to cool for at least an hour. You don’t want to handle or cut these until they have had a chance to cool completely, because they will be quite fragile until the melted butter has had a chance to set up again.
Once cooled, use the overhanging parchment paper to lift the entire cookie out of the pan, and place it on a large cutting board. Use a long, sharp knife to slice these into a four-by-six grid, for twenty-four total bars. If you are bringing these to a party, I like to cut some pieces small and others larger to meet everyone’s preferences.
Enjoy these immediately or store them for later. They are delicious at room temperature or warmed up, and can be kept in a sealed container for a few days. I actually prefer second-day cookie bars, since they have a little extra time for flavor melding.
Sweet toffee bits, crunchy pecans, and rich chocolate chips are all nestled in these chewy gooey bourbon-y cookie bars!
How to Serve These Cookie Bars
Listen, I don’t need to tell you how to eat cookies. The answer is clearly by the handful. Put a stack of them on a dessert plate and work your way through each chewy bite. And these cookie bars? They are no exception.
But hear me out: try one warmed up, and then top it with a scoop of rich and creamy coffee ice cream. Top it with some hot fudge or caramel sauce and a squirt of whipped cream, and you have yourself a true dessert. Pair it with a honey and chestnut cafe au lait for a little something extra.
Or bring these to your next potluck or any party with a dessert table. If you are in charge of all the desserts, make it a full-on, bite-sized spread with earl grey lemon bars, plum jam cookie bars, sesame butterscotch rice krispie treats, and blueberry cheesecake cookies.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- Should I rename this blog to Baking and Bourbon? Here’s a few of my favorite ways to use up your supply. You could try a chocolate old fashioned or a ginger algonquin cocktail. Or snack on a slice of a classic apple tart. Or just pour a glass and sip on it, neat.
- Add extra toffee bits into the caramel sauce atop a pecan and coconut crusted french toast.
- Pecans add the perfect crunch into rocky road black bean brownies.
- I love baking with white whole wheat flour! Try it in my favorite brown butter banana bread.
Bourbon Cookie Bars with Toffee, Pecans, and Chocolate Chips
- 1 ½ Cups All-purpose flour
- ¾ Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
- ¼ Cup Cornstarch
- 1 ½ tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter melted and cooled slightly
- 1 ⅓ Cup Brown Sugar
- ⅓ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs room temperature
- 1 Tbsp Bourbon or whiskey
- ½ Cup Pecans roughly chopped
- ½ Cup Toffee Bits
- ¾ Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, hanging over the two long edges.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Then mix in the eggs and bourbon until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients into the mixture, and fold in until just combined, and there are no large streaks of flour. Fold in the chocolate chips, pecans, and toffee bits until distributed.
- Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared pan, and press it into an even layer. Be sure to use your finger tips to get it into the edges and corners.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the cookies appear dry at the edges, but still somewhat underdone in the middle. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
- Let the cookie bars cool completely in the pan for at least an hour. Then use the parchment paper to lift the entire cookie out of the pan, and slice into 24 pieces. Serve immediately, or store for later.
- Make ahead tip: Store baked and cooled cookie bars, sliced or unsliced, in a sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
- Nut free: Simply omit the pecans and toffee bits. Add in a few more chocolate chips to make up for it.
- Alcohol free: Replace the bourbon with 1 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp water.