There is something immensely satisfying about bar cookies. They just have so much more heft than a typical cookie. And in our world, cookie heft translates into serious satisfaction.
So when we created this bar cookie, we decided to go heavy on the indulgence. After all, it is the holidays. We started with a basic pecan-brown sugar base, then heaped a rich bourbon-cherry topping over it. For good measure, we glazed the whole thing with a bit more bourbon and brown sugar. Bourbon not your speed? Substitute rum or brandy.
BOURBON CHERRY BARS
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Makes 16 bars
1 cup pecans, toasted and cooled, plus extra to garnish
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
2 cups dried cherries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons bourbon, divided
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 350 F. Mist an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then line the bottom with kitchen parchment, letting it also go up the sides.
In a food processor, pulse together the pecans and flour until the pecans are very finely chopped. Don’t over process or the mixture will become gummy.
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, salt and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar together until creamy. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecan-flour mixture just until a dough is formed. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Meanwhile, make the cherry topping. In a food processor, pulse the cherries until the pieces are no bigger than 1/4 inch.
In a small saucepan, combine the cherries, cinnamon, orange juice, 1/4 cup of the bourbon, and the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. When the crust is ready, spread the cherry mixture over the top. Allow to cool. Using the parchment paper to assist, pull the bars from the pan, removing and discarding the paper.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 4 teaspoons of bourbon and the powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle over the tops of the bars, then garnish with pecans. Cut into pieces and serve. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 week.
Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories; 90 calories from fat (35 per cent of total calories); 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg cholesterol; 80 mg sodium; 39 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 27 g sugar; 2 g protein.
Alison Ladman is a chef, food writer and recipe developer for The Associated Press. She also owns The Crust and Crumb Baking Company in Concord, New Hampshire.