Chocolate Pecan Bars!

Bars - Feature

So, let me start by saying that my sister, Lauren, said she liked these bars more than my chocolate pecan pie (which I make every year for Thanksgiving, and has become a family tradition). When Lauren said that, I knew I had a winner. After trying them, I couldn’t help but ALMOST agree with her. They are similar in taste, but with more of a shortbread bottom layer opposed to crust. I also use semi sweet chocolate chips for the bars, and unsweetened chocolate for the pie so there are a couple differences.
The reason I chose to make chocolate pecan pie bars is because I was going over to a friend’s last night and wanted to whip up something relatively simple and also using ingredients I already had in the pantry. I originally wanted to make bars that used fresh fruit, but because I didn’t plan ahead I didn’t want to risk going to the grocery store and not finding ripe fruit. Instead I remembered a recipe I found a couple days earlier while browsing Pintrest (like many of us do). The original recipe is from Jam Hands and can be found here below: (http://www.jamhands.net/2008/11/chocolate-pecan-pie-bars.html)
I would say this is a treat that you can bring to any party, and it was a hit at the dinner last night. I think they are very decedent and I am not sure if you will have enough will power to only eat one. I think I ate two yesterday, maybe two and a half. ☺ One of the things I love most about this recipe is the shortbread bottom layer, this may have happened accidentally because I doubled the recipe for the bottom layer so that the ingredients filled the pan. I used a 13 x 9 size pan, and when I made the first batch of the “crust layer” I found myself half a pan short of crust. So, I told my sister to make another batch. Luckily it worked out and came out delicious and even better than I expected.

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Bars - Feature

Bake Time:

Crust: 20 – 25 minutes
Bars: 25 minutes
Bake Temp: 350 degrees (9 x 13 pan)

INGREDIENTS:

Crust Bottom Layer –
2 sticks unsalted butter

½ cup brown sugar

2 ½ cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

Top Layer
3 eggs

¾ cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup sugar

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (you can always use less if you’re not a huge chocolate fan)

2 cups chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 and line the baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the pan before you are ready to put in the crust layer.
In a mixing bowl, beat two sticks of room temperature butter, then add in the brown sugar. In ½ cup increments add in the flour, and then the salt. The mixture should be course crumbs. Place crumb mixture into the pan and press firmly. Try and make it so this layer is pressed in the pan as evenly as possible to ensure correct baking time. Bake this for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before pouring on the top layer. Remember that different ovens will have slightly different baking times. Also you will be baking this again once you pour the top layer on so try not to over bake.
In the same bowl mix together the eggs, corn syrup, sugar and two tablespoons of melted butter. After that is mixed together, fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. Pour mixture onto the crust layer and spread evenly. I tried to make it so every part of the crust layer had a good amount of chocolate chips and pecans.
Bake bar for 25 minutes, and then let cool completely before taking out of pan. The foil helps to remove the bars from pan ever so nicely. Place bars on a cutting board once cool and then cut into squares. Then eat and enjoy.

Bars - Extra Bars - Foil

Bars - Feature

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Chocolate Raspberry Banana Muffins

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Well, it is no secret that I love chocolate and as of lately I have been on a chocolate baking binge. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a variety of desserts but chocolate is by far my favorite. It seems like ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a sweet tooth and a huge love for dessert. I think this is partially what inspired me to start baking. I wanted to know how to make the things that I love so much.

A couple days ago I bought ripe bananas at the grocery store with the intention of baking banana nut bread. BUT as I was looking at different recipes on Pintrest, I decided that I wanted to also include chocolate chips that I had in my pantry, and then I remembered I had a package of raspberries in the fridge, so I had to include those too! Suddenly most of the recipes that were popping up on Pintrest were for chocolate banana bread with raspberries and chocolate chip. I was thinking to myself – what did I get myself into? I usually prefer fewer ingredients, simple but bold flavors, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try chocolate raspberry banana muffins out and see how they tasted. Even though I was unsure about chocolate banana bread, I figured – why not.

Other than loving baking because of my initial curiosity with desserts, baking also makes me feel like I am doing right. It gives me this rewarding feeling and pleasure that I might make someone else happy with this dish or recipe. Food is a huge part of my culture (I’m Pacific Islander and Chinese) and I have a lot of family/friends who share the same pleasure and love for a great food, from appetizers to desserts! It is an awesome feeling knowing that someone appreciates the time and effort you put into making something. I get a similar satisfaction when blogging. All the research and recipe testing that goes into the perfect combination of ingredients and flavors, plus the photo editing and then drafting the content. Blogging is a lot of work, on top of actually doing what you are blogging about! However the feeling I get, once I share one of my post on Pintrest or Instagram, this feeling of happiness comes over me and I feel good about myself. That is why I continue to bake and blog because it inspires me and if it also inspires others too, that’s wonderful.

Currently, I’m in the process of deciding an official name that fits this blog. I have come up with so many options but nothing rings true to me. I am also in search of a graphic designer/blog designer to create a original template for me. So there are some changes coming to BrianaVeniana.com, including a name change (pretty sure, but not officially). Also, I am realizing more and more that perusing something that makes me happy is far more important that anything else. Happiness is key and success is subjective. Everyone has their own definition of success, and what makes life great to me is accomplishing goals that I set for myself. Creating this blog, and consistently updating it is one of my goals. Writing great content and producing professional photos is also on my list. Slowly but surely, I am getting there. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in how far you have to go, than looking at how far you’ve come… can’t remember who the author of this quote was.

Anyways that is enough of my ramblings, without further a due here is the recipe for Chocolate Raspberry Banana Muffins that came out pretty spectacular. Based on reviews from my sisters the muffins are not too chocolate-y and you only taste a hint of the banana. The raspberries are really the start of the show, and the chocolate chips pretty much melt into the batter. Next time I may try dark chocolate chips instead of semi sweet. This batter will come out thick and lumpy, so don’t expect a liquid like batter. Also, I bought another pack of raspberries from the store, so I could garnish the muffins with them but ended up putting 1 or 2 raspberries on top of the muffins once they were in the muffin pan.

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Chocolate Raspberry Banana Muffins

Baking Temp: 350

Baking Time: 20-25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 1/3 cup bananas (mashed)

1 cup raspberries

¾ cup chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark chocolate)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large bowl whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set bowl aside.

In a separate bowl mix together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil and egg.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together. Mix together until all ingredients are combined, remember that the batter will be lumpy and this is okay.

Fold in the chocolate chips and the raspberries. Do not over mix the batter or else muffins will come out tough.

Pour batter into muffin pan ¾ of the way full, then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes and enjoy with people you love.

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