Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie Bars

Well hello there.  You look like you could use some pie.  Specifically, some pie that has a buttery, flaky crust.  With chocolate chips in the filling.  And whiskey…there should defs be whiskey in this pie.

I think I have the solution.  How about some Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie, courtesy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking?  I think you’d prefer it in bar form, especially if, like me, you have to bring something to a potluck at work.  In order to make it in bar form, we’re going to use a shortbread crust…still from Baked…I mean, I trust those guys, so might as well stick to their recipes.

Now, the original Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie recipe uses a pie crust, and you bake it in a pie plate, and you serve big warm slices with melty vanilla ice cream.  (Or so I would imagine.)  I was completely afraid of trying to press pie crust into a 13×9 inch pan (I doubled the pie recipe…there are lots of hungry girls at Victoria’s Secret!) because pie crust can be temperamental as it is.  Instead, I used the shortbread crust recipe from the Rosemary Apricot Squares (minus the rosemary…not sure about rosemary and chocolate chips) found in Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.  It worked beautifully.  Easy to press into the pan, and so flaky, crisp, and buttery.  It provided a perfect contrast to the pie filling.

I could talk for hours about this pie filling.  It’s sweet, buttery, nutty, and most importantly, gooey.  When the pie is warm, the chocolate chips are melty, and when you get melty chocolate chips and crunchy walnuts in the same bite, it’s pretty much heaven.

You could make this without the whiskey…you could.  It would be a lovely chocolate chip pie that way.  (Super kid-friendly…especially with ice cream!)  But if you’re not averse to using alcohol when you bake, you shouldn’t shy away from the whiskey.  I may or may not have added a little more than called for in the recipe.  It just adds that extra layer of flavoring, bringing this pie from great to spectacular.

(I realize that I should have posted this over the weekend, so you could make it for the Kentucky Derby.  I’m sorry!  It will still taste good…perfect for barbecues all summer long!)

Tuscaloosa Tollhouse Pie Bars

Makes one 9×9 inch pan, or 16 bars (easily doubled for a 9×13 inch pan though…double both the crust and the filling recipes)

Note: If you don’t need to make them in bar form, just pour the filling into your favorite pie crust – but freeze the pie crust first, in the pie plate.  The filling amounts will be exactly the same.

For crust
3/4 + 1/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 TBS unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For filling
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (= 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and at room temperature
1 TBS whiskey (the pie can stand a little more…just saying…)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. For crust – Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.  In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the flour and beat on low until just combined.  Beat in the salt.  Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan.  Chill the crust in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position.  Prick the crust all over with a fork.  Bake until golden, about 25-30 minutes until light golden.  Cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.
3. For filling – Place the flour and both sugars in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.
4. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on high until foamy and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.  (Sounds like a long time, but you need that air in there.)  Gradually add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Beat on high speed until a little fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the whiskey, and beat again on high for 1 minute.  Add the walnuts and 3/4 cup chocolate chips and fold in with a rubber spatula.
5. If you turned off the oven, preheat again to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position.  Pour the filling over the baked shortbread crust and smooth the top evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup over the top.
6. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the top of golden brown (it may seem dark, but don’t worry).  Test for doneness by sticking a thin knife in the center of the pie…if it comes out clean, the pie is done.  If it doesn’t come out clean, bake for another 5 minutes.  When it’s done, the filling will also feel set in the center.  (If you’re using a regular pie crust, you might want to cover the crust with foil after about 25 minutes to prevent it from browning too much.)

Let the bars cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing…this will make for much more cleanly sliced bars.  The bars will keep, tightly covered and chilled for about 2 days.

Recipe for crust adapted from Baked Explorations; recipe for filling adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

The bars are fantastic reheated and served warm.  Vanilla ice cream would only make them better!  They’re also fantastic chilled…the texture is totally different, as the bars firm up when chilled, but they taste kind of like frozen cookie dough that way.  Which we all know is a wonderful taste.

Now you should have some whiskey left.  How about a whiskey sour?

P.S. I realized I made a mistake when I first posted the recipe…I had written the crust recipe for a 9×13 inch pan and the filling for a 9×9 inch pan.  All fixed now!  Both recipes are written for  9×9 inch pan.  Sorry for any confusion!



  1. Whiskey? I feel like I am about to get drunk with a single pie….LOL! It’s unique how most foodies are starting to incorporate alcohol into their recipes…:P

    1. haha it’s not that much, I promise! The alcohol taste will bake off, just leaving a more complex flavor to the pie. It would still be super yummy without it though 🙂

    1. Thanks for checking out the recipe! And thank you for pointing out my mistake 🙂 The shortbread crust and the filling recipes are now both written for a 9×9 inch pan. They’re both easily doubled for a 9×13 inch pan though. Sorry for the confusion!

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