Chocolatey Walnut-Molasses Bars

walnut bars

Thanksgiving pies are some of the season's best desserts, hands down. My favorite has always been a toss up between pumpkin pie and pecan pie. Many people are so tied to tradition that they eat the same sweet treats, oftentimes store-bought, but there are much better homemade options to be made with just a little creativity. This recipe for cookie bars is like a pecan or walnut pie but better because it includes chocolate.

I'm not that picky when it comes to desserts and I love new takes on old classics such as nut bars instead of pie. First, they're easier to make and you can get a lot of little bars or squares from a large pan vs. a small pie plate. Plus there's better portion control with smaller finger desserts compared to a large slice of pie—at least for some people.

This recipe is a riff on Nestlé Tollhouse Nut Bars. My version is made with walnuts, molasses, and chocolate. Molasses isn't often used in recipes, but it really makes a difference here because it works so well with walnuts, which stand up to the strong flavors. Serve these bars for dessert this Thursday and you'll hear only acclaim from your family and friends.

Chocolate-Walnut-Molasses Bars

for the crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

for the filling:
3 large eggs
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-by-12-inch pan, line with parchment and butter again.

For the crust: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add flour, a little at a time, until incorporated. Turn out dough into the prepared pan and press in, smoothing evenly. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

For the filling: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together eggs, molasses, sugar, salt, melted butter, and vanilla. By hand, fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Pour filling into baked crust and spread evenly. Bake until center is set, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Yield: 16 bars.

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