Brown Butter Pecan Pie Bars
In partnership with my friends at Diamond of California, of course.
Welcome to pie week recipe #3! Though these aren’t shaped like your typical pie, they’re every bit as mouthwatering in square form. Especially when that square combines not only pecan pie + crust, but brown butter, quality nuts, pure maple syrup for extra flavor, and a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
It’s confirmed: diets do not stand a chance. Also, diets do not belong in pie!
While I don’t usually like to stray from the classic, unadulterated pecan pie– I do believe there is room for both traditional pecan pie (here’s my favorite pecan pie recipe!) and jazzy pecan pie. Who doesn’t want a little jazzy every now and then??
Let’s start with the crust– the brown butter crust. Like a toasted nut crust, brown butter brings a whole new level of flavor to the bars as a whole. It’s the same crust as my salted caramel apple pie bars, only doubled to make a larger batch and– of course– made with brown butter. All you’ll do is brown some butter on the stovetop, then mix it with sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. The basic round-up of ingredients. Press it into the pan and pre-bake for a few minutes while you make the pecan pie topping.
Check out all those flavorful brown butter specks. ↑
Easy stuff in the filling including butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, cream, and eggs. Diet bars, remember? You know the drill– brown butter for best flavor. I chose to make these pecan pie bars without corn syrup and formulate a way to have maple syrup get the job done. It works like a charm here. You’ll boil butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and cream together into a syrup– then temper the eggs. Now before you go running at the term “tempering” let’s chat about it for a second.
Tempering means you’ll add a hot liquid to the beaten eggs. If you add the eggs directly to the pot of boiling ingredients– guess what? You’ll have some funky scrambled egg sauce. By slowly whisking *some* of the hot syrup into the beaten eggs, you are slowly bringing up their temperature– not shocking them. And then you’ll slowly drizzle and whisk that warm egg mixture into the pot. This way you’re avoiding that funky scrambled egg situation that sounds, and probably is, horrifying.
Stir in the pecans– and make sure they’re high quality like our favorites by Diamond of California. Then spread the topping onto the crust. Don’t be alarmed if the pecan topping is too syrup-y. It will cook just fine!
(Speaking of California, Kevin and I are in Napa right now! I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.)
Is there a brown butter pecan pie scented candle somewhere? Perhaps with a hint of maple? Because I want to smell these pecan pie bars baking all day long. I’m excited for you to experience it.
The flavors marry together wonderfully between the brown butter, maple, toasty pecans, and brown sugar. I’m not a fan of cloyingly sweet pecan pie, so I added a sprinkle of sea salt on top of the baked bars. They’re crunchy in some places, soft in others. Moist with big chunks of delicious pecans on a bed of brown butter. It most certainly doesn’t get better than this.
Much easier than an entire pie!
Brown Butter Pecan Pie Bars
Brown Butter Crust
- 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
Pecan Pie Topping
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar (I prefer dark here)
- 1/2 cup (120ml) pure maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3 cups (300g) coarsely chopped Diamond of California shelled pecans
- optional: sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease a 9x13 inch pan or line with parchment paper leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the finished bars out. Set aside.
- For the crust: Slice the butter up into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep stirring occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning-- you'll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. Once browned, remove from heat immediately and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, stir the brown butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour until evenly combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
- For the topping: Combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine the ingredients and dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes. As it is boiling, carefully spoon 1/2 cup of the mixture into a glass measuring cup. Slowly drizzle and stir hot mixture into the eggs. Stir frequently to keep it moving so the eggs do not scramble. Once all of the mixture is added to the beaten eggs, slowly drizzle and whisk this back into the pot. The trick is to always be stirring/whisking to avoid scrambling the eggs. Remove from heat, stir in the pecans, and pour evenly over the crust.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out *mostly* clean. If the top is getting too brown as it bakes, loosely cover with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven, set on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover and store leftover bars at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: Bars freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then bring to room temperature before serving.
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