Layered Butterscotch-Pecan Brownie-Bars

Christmas Day.  

In Norway, people are lighting Yule logs; in Germany, children are searching their shoes for gifts; in Mexico, they're breaking pinatas; in Lebanon, they're eating sheep; and in America people are ripping through packaging and eating... a lot.

Well, each statement is true at least somewhere in each of those countries - but the main point of all Christmases, everywhere that Christmas is celebrated, is that families are together and people are sharing with each other.

Sharing and togetherness.  Isn't that how we all celebrate?  Exchanging food, gifts, stories, hugs, stories... did I mention stories?  Sometimes I can't remember, and I have to say it again.  Oh, and stories.  Did I ever tell you the time Jimmy fell flat on his face, tripping over his own feet?  Didn't you Jimmy?  What a funny story...

(Yeah, we never can live some of those down, huh?  Love how those ones never stop being shared.  Over and over and over...)

Nevermind.  It's Christmas day, and at my family's house, cookies have been eaten, presents have been unwrapped, cookies have been eaten, and dinner is being made.  In that order.  All our little traditions are unfurling as usual, with slight tweaks here and there to keep us interested.

A new tweak is this cookie recipe.  I've never made anything quite like it before - a giant sugar cookie for the bottom, and what is essentially a flourless chocolate cake for the top.  It's also made with coconut oil and reduced sugar, which - in my opinion - makes it really rich and decadent without being "bad" for you.  Excellent... this way I can eat more food, right?

Such is the way of my brain on Christmas.  Ah, well.  

I'll be enjoying this little Christmas treat now... but I am happy to have found a new dessert I can feel good about enjoying even after my "Christmas brain" has turned into "New Year's resolution brain"!  

Off to go eat me some ham and green beans and cranberry pumpkin cake and this...
What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Layered Butterscotch-Pecan Brownie-Bars

Ingredients:

For the sugar cookie base: (full recipe for making sugar cookies here)

1 c. (120 g) white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
2 T. (30 g) coconut oil, solid + room temp 
1/3 c. (8 g) powdered stevia 
1/4 c. (56 g) white sugar 
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 egg whites (or 1/4 c. liquid egg whites)
1/4 c. nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Flourless brownie batter:

2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
2 T. (30 g) coconut oil
1/3 c. sugar
6 large (72 g) pitted dates
1/3 c. stevia powder
1 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
About 1/4 c. pecan halves, for topping
1-2 T. butterscotch chips, for topping

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Start by making the sugar cookie base.  In a food processor, combine the flour through salt.  When all the coconut oil is evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients, add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process just until it forms a ball of dough.  

Spray an 8 x 8" glass baking pan with cooking spray and press the ball of sugar cookie dough into the bottom.  You will probably need to flour or oil your hands before pressing it down - it will be really sticky!

Make the brownie batter next.  Chop up and melt the baking chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring after each 20-30 second interval until it is completely melted.  In a food processor, blend the melted baking chocolate with all the remaining ingredients except the egg.  Once everything is well blended, add the egg and pulse a few times to incorporate it.

Pour the brownie batter on top of the cookie dough.  

Press in the pecans and butterscotch chips into the top of the brownie batter.

Bake about 25 minutes, or until the brownie batter seems (almost) set.  The cookie dough will be done and the brownie batter will continue to set after being removed from the oven.

Makes 16 bars
Nutrition per bar: 141 calories; 7 g fat (5 g saturated); 19 g carbs; 2 g fiber; 3 g protein