1 c. toasted diced pecans,divided;
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted;
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed;
3 large eggs;
1 tsp vanilla;
1/2 tsp salt;
1/2 tsp cinnamon;
1/2 c strong coffee or 1 T espresso powder + 1/2 cup warm water;
3/4 c whole wheat flour;
3/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour;
1/2 tsp baking powder;
1 c chocolate chips, optional.
1/4 c butter;
1/8 tsp salt;
1/2 c packed brown sugar;
1 T milk;
1/2 tsp vanilla;
2 c confectioners sugar.
Preheat the oven to 300º. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Place the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a metal pie pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until you smell their toasty aroma and they've deepened a shade in color. Remove the nuts from the oven, place them on a rack to cool and increase the ovens temperature to 375º.
In a large, microware-safe bowl melt the butter at low power, loosely covered. Stir in the brown sugar, and then return the mixture to the microwave for 15 seconds at high power to slightly melt the sugar. Cool the mixture to lukewarm, then stir in the eggs vanilla, slt, cinnamon, and coffee. Stir in the flours, baking powder, and 1/2 cup of he pecans. Stir in the chocolate chips, if using.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and tehn bake for 17 to 19 minutes, until the center springs back when lightly touched with your finger. Remvoe from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack.
To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and heat the mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar is totally dissolved. Stir in the milk and return to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Adjust consistency with more milk.
To finish the bars: When the bars are cool, spread the caramel frosting on top. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted pecans and cut into pieces.