These dream bars have been in my family for generations, and they are in almost every memory I have of large family gatherings and parties at my grandparents’ house. This is one of those recipes that is such a classic (coming from my great-grandmother’s cookbook) no one would ever dare mess with it… that is, until me.
My grandmother, standing at 5 feet tall, cooks for hours to ensure that every family meal, whether it be a holiday or a regular Sunday dinner, is a home-cooked masterpiece (and she gets very frustrated when we eat it all in minutes!). Often, for bigger holidays and gatherings, my mom and aunt help out with side dishes and desserts, but no matter how many promises to bring dessert are made, certain family events, like the Fourth of July, always magically seem to have dream bars. (This tradition is helped by the fact that my grandmother keeps a freezer in her basement full of nothing but cookies she bakes whenever she has some spare time, which is hardly ever because she never stops moving.)
With every test of this recipe, I was afraid to make changes to such a classic family dessert. In fact, just today, when I texted my grandmother and told her that I added cinnamon to the dream bars, I expected a resounding response of “why??”, instead I was surprised with a response of “That is something I never thought of.”
Grandma, I hope you enjoy this little variation on a family classic (and this cute old picture)!
1 Cup flour
½ Cup brown sugar
½ Cup butter (1 stick)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pulse flour and brown sugar together in a food processor just until combined. Cut butter into 1 inch cubes and add to the food processor. Pulse until pea size crumbs appear. Pulse in 1 teaspoon very cold water.
Pat into a 9x9 square baking pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until slightly brown. (I usually have to leave it in for closer to 20 minutes.)
2 Eggs - beaten
1 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
½ Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon vanilla (I usually eyeball it, no need to measure)
1 ¼ Cup chocolate chips (If you don’t want to use pecans, use 2 cups chocolate chips)
½ Cup pecans chopped into big pieces
Dash of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Add in all other filling ingredients (no specific order). Spread carefully over the warm crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting. ( I usually put in the fridge for a couple of hours before cutting.)