Bleak House Bars (from Sweet Revenge)
Recipe by Diane Mott Davidson
¾ cup pecan halves
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
14 ounces (1¼ cups) sweetened condensed milk
18 ounces (3 cups) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup seedless raspberry jam
In a large sauté pan, toast the nuts for about ten minutes, until they are slightly brown and emit a nutty scent. Remove them from the heat, cool, and coarsely chop.
Preheat the oven to 350?F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is very soft and creamy. Keeping the mixer on medium speed, beat in the dark brown sugar. Remove the beater from the bowl and scrape it. Stir the flour, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and nuts into the butter mixture until very well combined. Measure out 2¼ cups of this mixture and set the rest aside. Wash and dry the bowl and beaters.
Press the 2¼ cups of butter mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. While the crust is baking, combine the condensed milk with 2 cups of the chocolate chips in a heavy saucepan. Cook, stirring, over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Remove the crust from the oven and immediately pour the chocolate mixture over the hot crust.
In the large bowl of the electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is very smooth. Add the granulated sugar and beat once more until smooth. Finally, add the egg, vanilla, and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and beat until very smooth. In a small bowl, stir the jam until it is smooth.
Now you are ready to make the rest of the layers. Sprinkle the remaining butter-nut mixture over the chocolate. Using a soup spoon, ladle the jam evenly over the butter-nut mixture. Using another soup spoon, ladle the cream-cheese mixture over the jam layer. Finally, sprinkle the remaining cup of chocolate chips over the cream cheese.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cream-cheese layer is set and no longer liquid in the middle. Cool on a rack.