I first tried Mexican hot chocolate at a little place in Ocean Beach called Ortega's. Its just like regular hot chocolate but with delicious spices that give it a much more complex flavor. Rather then coming in a powder, it starts in chocolate blocks that you melt with milk on the stove. When I needed a dessert to make for a Mexican themed pot luck at Kevin's office I knew I wanted to do something with Mexican Chocolate. Internet searching helped me find a Rick Bayless recipe for Mexican Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars. I'm a big fan of everything Rick Bayless so obviously I had make them.
yield: 32 2-inch bars
9 ounces (about 2 cups) pecan halves
One 9-ounce bag pretzel rods
4 sticks unsalted butter (divided use)
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces not larger than 1/4-inch
4.5 oz finely chopped Mexican chocolate
3 tablespoons flour
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Toast the pecans and prepare the crumb crust. In a 325 degree oven, toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet until noticeably darker and toasty smelling, about 10 minutes. Let the pecans cool to lukewarm (but keep the oven heated), then coarsely chop them by hand into1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces. Scrape into a large bowl. Use a food processor to chop the pretzels into fairly fine crumbs. (You should have 2 cups of crumbs.) In a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave at 50% power, melt 2 sticks of the butter. Scrape into the processor, along with the 1/2 cup sugar. Pulse until everything is combined. Butter the bottom and sides of two 8 x 8-inch baking pans. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of each pan, then press them firmly in place. Butter the parchment paper. Divide the crumb mixture between the two pans and pat into an even layer covering the bottom completely.
Make the filling. To the pecans, add the 2 chocolates and the flour. Stir to combine, then divide evenly between the 2 pans. In your small saucepan or microwave, melt the remaining 2 sticks of the butter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla, and beat at medium-low speed (if your mixer has a choice, use the flat beater). Slowly add the melted butter, mixing until the batter looks smooth. Divide the batter between the two pans, pouring it slowly and evenly over the surface to ensure even distribution of the chocolate and pecans through the batter.
Slide into the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the center has just set. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until firm for easy cutting. Cut into 2-inch squares. Keep them stored in the refrigerator until just before serving.
original recipe link
I made a major mistake in putting these into cupcake papers. I thought that it would make it easier so I wouldn't have to cut up the bars. WRONG! It was awful, the papers stuck, and shredded when I tried to take them off, so finally I resorted to cutting them off, which unfortunately meant lots of wasted yumminess. Oh well- next time I'll make them in one large pan and cut them into bars.
The final product went over really well at the work pot luck. They didn't get touched till right at the end, but once one person tried them they got rave reviews and everyone started trying them and loved them! Actually two people asked Kevin if he had more at home that he could bring in the next day. The taste is so perfect, salty, and sweet and nutty. The taste of the Mexican Chocolate is subtle and comes out right at the end. Next time I think I'll add more of the Mexican Chocolate and less of the semi sweet. I still have a few blocks of the Mexican Chocolate left, and while I know I'll be using some of it to make hot chocolate, I'm not sure what to use the rest for. If you have any suggestions let me know!