Chocolate Pecan Pie Shortbread Bars to Cure a Bad Day

A sweet Southern pick-me-up

Photo: Brittany Connerly

Jocelyn Delk Adams’s new cookbook, Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big & Small Moments, focuses on cultivating joy through food—but for this recipe, she calls for a “real-talk moment”: “Sometimes in life, we just ain’t feeling it,” she writes. “We’ve done our affirmations, we smiled our fake-ass smiles in hopes of developing them into authentic ones, and we even wrote in our gratitude journals. But sometimes things just don’t click. The glass doesn’t feel half-full.” 

But, she continues, “Guess what? That’s okay. Lean into that moment, and if it means you need a good cry, cry your heart out! If it means you need a day in complete solitude, eating your feelings with a dozen of these gooey, decadent shortbread bars, so be it. Sometimes we need a reset to return to joy. And if an entire pan of these bars goes missing in the process, at least you had a delicious time in the midst of the valley.”

Read our interview with Adams, the brains behind the recipe blog Grandbaby Cakes, on inner joy, celebrating the mundane, and good food.

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  • Chocolate Pecan Pie Shortbread Bars (Yield: 12 bars)

  • For the shortbread crust

    • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

    • 1 cup granulated sugar

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • for the pecan topping

    • 1½ cups pecan halves

    • 1 cup sorghum molasses or maple syrup

    • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

    • ½ cup granulated sugar

    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

    • ¼ cup bourbon

    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

    • ¼ tsp. ground ginger

    • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

    • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional, but highly recommended)


  1. Make the shortbread crust: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a generous amount overhanging the longer sides.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated and briefly beat again to recombine. Add the flour in two increments, mixing on medium speed until just combined and the dough just comes together.

  3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan. Lightly dust your fingers and palms with flour and gently press the dough into the pan. Score the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Bake for 40–45 minutes, until baked through and golden. Transfer the pan to a wire rack (keep the oven on) and let cool.

  4. Make the pecan topping: Spread the pecans over a small rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast in the oven for 10 minutes, or until fragrant, tossing halfway through. Transfer the pecans to a bowl and let them chillax while you finish up the topping; keep the oven on.

  5. In a small saucepan, combine the sorghum molasses, both sugars, and the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts, the sugars dissolve, and the mixture is combined, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into a medium bowl, and let cool.

  6. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, bourbon, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and ginger until combined.

  7. When the syrup mixture is cool enough to touch, whisk in the egg mixture until combined. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir until combined. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and, using a small o-set spatula or butter knife, evenly spread it out.

  8. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until the liquid no longer jiggles if you shake the pan. Let the bars set at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then pop in the fridge until pretty set, about 1 hour. You’re looking for a pecan-pie-filling consistency.

  9. When ready to serve, cut twelve 3¼-by-2½-inch bars and dig in. These are beyond bomb with some whipped cream—just sayin’. And if you really want to live dangerously, warm up a piece to enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Reprinted from Everyday Grand, copyright © 2023 by Jocelyn Delk Adams. Photographs copyright © 2023 by Brittany Conerly. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.