‘Falling is Not Failing’ Dark Chocolate Pecan Bars

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For Mother’s Day Cameron gifted me a “30 Days for $30” unlimited yoga pass at Kindness Yoga, a Denver business with studios located throughout the metro area. If you’re interested in practicing yoga, I highly recommend their studios for the diverse teaching styles, convenient class times, and the wide variety of classes. Fortunate for me, one of their studios is a short drive from our house so I was able to practice several times this week and benefit from each class’s focus on movement with mindfulness, something that has not been an easy path to follow since my life has felt like one endless roller coaster ride for the last six months.

Earlier this week during class, the instructor asked us to practice a challenging balance pose, and as we teetered on one leg with eyes closed, he reminded us that falling isn’t failing in yoga, that, in fact, once we attain a perfect posture, the journey is over. Perfection = nowhere else to go. Growth is no longer possible.

I needed that nudge to reset my perspective because I’ve felt like I’ve been failing in so many parts of my life these last few months, and one of the most insidious failures has been not making time for centered reflection. Reflection has allowed me to be open to the world, to respond to challenges with thoughtfulness, kindness, and love rather than react out of fear.

Considering this “failure” of mindfulness as “falling” has helped remove the judgment I’ve cast upon myself for not doing a better job of being open to life’s abundance. Falling is a process that can only happen if you’re moving, but I’m a more fulfilled human being when I’m moving with loving presence, even if I stumble. Fear takes pleasure in stage whispering that I’m a failure when I fall. Love checks my scrapes when I hit the ground hard and pulls me up so I can try again. Love seems like the kind of friend I need in my life right now as I practice presence and make time for the people and activities that make the world a beautiful, full, and miraculous place.

On to food!

Today’s recipe is a long time coming. Like so many parts of my life, making time to experiment in cooking and baking and then writing about it has slid down the priority list as I have struggled to work a stressful day job and spend meaningful time with my daughter. With a slightly improved work schedule for the coming months, I’m hoping to sneak in more food blogging when Alice naps.

Below you’ll find a dessert I made last week to share at a coworker’s party that welcomed his second son to the world. I promised something decadent when I signed up to bring food to the party, and these dark chocolate pecan bars deliver. A sweet and buttery cookie base, gooey chocolate and brown sugar filling, and crusty sugared top come together in small bar form to satisfy an afternoon sugar craving. (I may have eaten one for breakfast.) Easy to assemble, this recipe yields enough bars to keep a medium-sized party happy. However, if you’re in the market for a small gathering, you can easily half the recipe and prevent your partygoers from sliding into a sugar coma.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Bars
Image by author.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Bars
Makes 24 bars

Ingredients
Crust
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp fine sea or table salt
– 1/2 cup sugar (I used organic turbinado.)
– 1 cup unsalted butter

Filling
– 3/4 cup unsalted butter
– 2/3 cup brown sugar
– 2/3 cup white sugar (or organic turbinado)
– 3 large eggs
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tsps vanilla extract
– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
– 1 1/4 cups toasted and coarsely chopped pecans

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper, and set aside.

2. Now, make the crust. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl or blender. Run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps. Transfer the dough clumps to prepared baking pan, pressing them evenly across the bottom and a little up the sides of the pan. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until pale gold. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

3. While the crust par-bakes, make your filling. Melt your butter, and then transfer butter to a large bowl and let it cool.

4. Stir sugars into butter until smooth, and then the eggs, salt, and vanilla. Stir in flour until combined, and then mix in chocolate and nuts. Pour over par-baked crust, spreading evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt before baking.

5. Now, bake the bars for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is firm and golden. Let them cool completely before cutting into squares, or else risk a gooey mess. Still delicious but less aesthetically appealing. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

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