Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, but as always my opinions are 100% my own.
It’s finally here! National Cookie Month! I’m really honored that I was invited to join nine other bloggers on the Cookie Month ’14 project. Every week in October, each of us will be sharing a special cookie recipe (or two) along with baking tips based on our own experiences with products that have been donated by our Cookie Month ’14 sponsors. Ten bloggers each posting a cookie recipe every week…now, that’s a lot of cookies! With the holidays right around the corner, this project will be a great way to collect and PIN your favorites and begin planning for your own baking adventures. And, to help with that you just might want to follow our Cookie Month Pinterest board, too!
For today’s big kick-off, I wanted to share something extra special, and of course, I knew it had to include chocolate! Chocolate Ganache Pecan Shortbread — inspired by a recipe from the 1998 Southern Living Christmas book — begins with a simple shortbread crust and is topped with caramel, pecans, chocolate… and wait for it… decadent dark chocolate ganache! With all those yummy ingredients you know this cookie bar couldn’t be anything but delicious!
Ever since I returned from the Food Blog Forum in Asheville (which is how I got hooked up with my new cookie blogging friends *smile*), I’ve been looking for the perfect opportunity to use my French Broad Chocolate Chef’s Tablet and jar of Looking Glass Creamery goat milk caramel from my swag bag. I paired these ingredients with a pecan shortbread that I made with Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Organic Flour. I was especially curious to see what difference I found by using Bob’s Red Mill… is it really America’s Best Baking Flour? That’s a pretty bold statement! So, here’s how it all went down…
First, I combined softened butter, Bob’s Red Mill flour, and chopped pecans to make the shortbread crust. Truthfully, I was really pleased at how easy it was to incorporate the butter into the flour by just using a fork–no sifting needed–and the shortbread baked up perfectly!
After the shortbread cooled, I combined the caramel and pecans and spread the mixture evenly over the crust. (You can use any caramel sauce for this step, or even melt a bag of Kraft caramels with a small (5-ounce) can of evaporated milk if you prefer.) Don’t you love my pretty teal GIR Pro Spatula? This kitchen tool is both sturdy and heat resistant, and I love the way it handles! (They are available in a dozen different colors, too!)
Now for the chocolate love part. After mixing and baking the chocolate layer (see the recipe below), allow the cookie bars to cool completely before making the ganache layer. I made my ganache with the French Broad Chef’s Tablet and the result was a less sweet dark chocolate ganache which I liked, but John would have preferred the ganache a bit sweeter. I’ve written the recipe for making ganache with semi-sweet baking chocolate which will result in a sweeter ganache, just choose your preference (unsweetened or semi-sweet).
One tip on ganache: It’s simple to prepare, but ganache does requires proper chilling for best results. Overnight is best.
Be sure to check out my cookie month partners and their amazing recipes: Jess at The 104 Homestead – Kathie at Homespun Seasonal Living – Tessa at Homestead Lady – Chris at Joybilee Farm – Wendy at The Monday Box – Nikki at Nik Snacks – Shari at Pure Grace Farms – Angi at Schneiderpeeps – Lauren at Wicked Spatula
The following companies generously sponsored various cookie month projects. I may not have used all of them in my recipes, but this project is in no small part thanks to them and their incredible contributions: Bob’s Red Mill, The Daily Meal, India Tree, KerryGold, King Arthur Flour, Product of GIR, KaTom, SunButter & Wilton.
- 1-1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 1 cup caramel I used Looking Glass Creamery goat milk caramel, coffee flavored
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 2-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped
- 2-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped
- 32 pecan halves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9x13 glass baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1 cup pecans, and 1/2 cup softened butter, mixing with a fork until it becomes small crumbs. Gently pat mixture into bottom of baking dish. Bake 15 minutes; cool on a wire rack.
Combine 2-1/2 ounces of chocolate and 2-1/2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool.
Combine caramel and 2 cups pecans. Spread over cooled crust.
Beat eggs at medium speed until thick and pale, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Stir in melted chocolate. Drop by spoonfuls on top of caramel layer and gently spread to cover.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Bring cream and syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and pour in chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, then whisk gently until smooth. Dip pecan halves in ganache, coating half. Place on wax paper. Chill until set. Spread remaining ganache evenly over bars. Chill until topping is set; cut into bars and top each with a coated pecan half.