I still fondly reflect back on one of my first jobs in a professional kitchen.

I worked the graveyard shift as a baker/pastry chef making cakes, pies, tarts, tortes, cookies and tea breads. I’d roll into the kitchen around midnight, often after tying one on at a nearby bar, crank up some Beasts of Bourbon and set about my tasks.

An ancient Black man came in around 3am to knock out the baguettes and he’d regale me with stories of what it was like when he was a young man growing up in rural Alabama. It wasn’t pretty but it was certainly compelling. He kept an old harp in the glovebox of his car and sometimes when he needed a break, he’d go out back and roll up a cigarette and start blowing lonesome from the front seat of his old Buick. He got a kick out it when I’d discover a “new” musician like Big Boy Crudup or Slim Harpo. I reluctantly left the gig after a couple years when I had the opportunity to become head chef at a Greek-run soul food diner, but I’ve never lost my love for baking. If there was money to be made doing it, I’d still be in the trenches somewhere whipping eggs, weighing flour and running my timers as I hovered over a battery of giant, convection ovens.

With Autumn here, I’ve been dying to fire up the stove and set to baking, so last night I rummaged through my baking cabinet til I found all the goodies to make a pan of dessert bars. I always try to channel Maida Heatter when I’m wielding my whisk. If you’re not familiar with her, run down to Bookpeople and pick up one of her dessert cook books. She’s the ultimate doyenne of sweet goods and is an exemplar of womanhood. They’re not making em like Maida anymore.

Recipe: Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Bars


3 cups pecan halves

2 cups all-purpose flour {I used whole wheat cause I’d just bought a fresh bag and wanted to break it in}

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 c. cold butter, sliced into chunks

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa

2 c. Chocolate chips

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

3/4 c. light corn syrup

1/4 c. butter, melted

4 large eggs, beaten

1/4 c. Bourbon, I like Bulleit


* Lightly toast pecans in baking dish in oven

* Spray big lasagna pan with Baker’s Joy-the finest non-stick cooking spray on the market

* Pulse flour, sugar, butter and cocoa in a food processor 7 to 8 times til mixture resembles a loose dough. Press mix into bottom and partially up, sides of pan

* Bake crust at 300 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Cool completely.

* Whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, eggs and bourbon until smooth. Stir in toasted pecans and spoon into crust.

* Bake at 300 for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

If you can resist diving in, please let the bars chill in the fridge now. I can never do this and just start eating the Hell out of em the second they hit the counter. Omit the bourbon if that’s not your thing or substitute a good dark rum if it’s more to your liking. I like to take a big bar and mash it down into a scoop of vanilla ice cream or combine a big bar with a scoop of ice cream and add milk to make a bourbon chocolate pecan milk shake.

Bon Appetit Y’all

previous desserts http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Dessert

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