Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate Chunk, Oatmeal, Pecan Cookie Bars

I don't do a whole lot of baking. But I am intrigued by the idea of baking things in a healthy way. It can be a challenge to reduce fats and replace ingredients like white flour with whole wheat, so when it can be successfully done, I love it. One of the things I have recently learned is the virtues of browned butter. Browning butter intensifies its buttery flavor enabling you to use less of it. Such a lovely thing!

One of my families baked goods weaknesses is definitely cookies. Gosh I love cookies. The chewy-salty-sweet yumminess of a home baked cookie makes me weak in the knees. I made chocolate chip cookies a few weeks ago and was craving them again but I was having a battle of wills inside myself over indulging in all those butter calories again. That is how this recipe was born.

Now I am not claiming that this is a healthy recipe, but based on a standard cookie recipe, I did manage to cut the butter in half. I figured I needed to compensate for some of the moisture this was removing so I added a little bit of lowfat sour cream and an extra egg white. I also replaced over half of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. 

Loaded with dark chocolate chunks, toasted pecans and oatmeal. These are still a decadent cookie for sure, but maybe one you can feel just a little bit better about eating.

Chocolate Chunk, Oatmeal, Pecan Cookie Bars

Note* When browning butter, be sure to use a stainless steel pan. A dark nonstick surface will make it impossible to tell when the butter browns.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 egg 
1 egg white
1/4 c. lowfat sour cream
1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
10 oz. package dark chocolate chunks
1 c. pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 c. old-fashioned oatmeal
nonstick cooking spray

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 13x9 inch baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

2. Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a stainless steel, medium skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until the butter turns golden-brown and has a nutty aroma, about 3-5 minutes. (Be sure to watch the butter carefully, it goes from browned to burnt in seconds.)

4. Add the butter to a large bowl along with sugars and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the egg, egg white and sour cream. Vigorously whisk this mixture for 30 seconds  then let rest for 3 minutes, whisk again for 30 seconds and rest again for 3 minutes, repeat this step once more. (This is done to ensure that the sugar melts, and helps make the bars chewy.) 

5.Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until most of the way combined. Add in chocolate chunks, pecans and oatmeal. Mix to thoroughly combined. 

6. Pat into prepared pan. (The cookie dough will be sticky, it helps to use wax paper or even a plastic bag over your hand to keep it from sticking to your hands.) Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Remove from baking dish and cut into squares.


  1. Those bars look amazing, I want some of those. Drool!

  2. Bars are sometimes just the thing when you do not want to go to all the bake time for dozens of cookies. Your bars here do look like they are packed with some great flavor and I like the use of wheat flour here. Definitely a keeper of a recipe-yum!