In my never-ending quest to bake anything and everything I see on Pinterest, I stumbled across these pecan pie bars from Avery Cooks and just had to try them. Layers of buttery shortbread, toasted pecans, gooey caramel, and rich chocolate fuse together in one pan to create a knock-your-socks-off dessert. Seriously. It’s. So. Good.
The best part? It’s all homemade. The even better part? It’s super easy to make and will probably take you an less than 50 minutes. The hardest part about making this delectable treat is restraining yourself from gobbling it up when it comes out of the oven.
First you toast some pecans in the oven, which smell amazing when they’re done. Add a little salt, and boom. Roasted & salted pecans.
Next, you make the buttery shortbread crust. Put away the spatula and your fancy schmancy dough hook for your fancy schmancy mixer, because you’re using your own two hands to make this crust. After mixing up some butter, flour, sugar, and cornstarch into a good crumble, you pack it down nice and even into the bottom of the pan. So easy and so much fun, because who doesn’t like to get a little messy when they’re baking?
After you make the crust, sprinkle your roasted pecans and a cup of chocolate chips over the pan. Looking fabulous already.
Now it’s time for the fun stuff- making the gooey caramel that is like the crown jewel of this dessert. Now, don’t worry – I was intimidated to make homemade caramel initially like many people – but this recipe involves like 5 ingredients and a microwave. You don’t even have to turn on the stove! Heavy cream, brown sugar, and butter in a bowl. Nuke it. Stir it. Nuke it again. Add a dash of vanilla and salt. And just like that, you have a perfect caramel sauce.
Pour it over your chocolate and pecan layer, and get really excited because in 28-32 minutes you’ll be a really happy person, even more so than when you started.
BUT WAIT. YOU CAN’T EAT IT YET. Yep. Sorry! Gotta let these babies cool for three hours. Walk the dog. Take a nap. Do some preemptive exercising. Watch a Harry Potter movie. Whatever it takes not to cut into this puppy early.
But three hours later, you can take a serrated knife to your delicious creation. Enjoy with a nice cool glass of milk.
I’ve copied the whole recipe from Avery Cooks below and added a few of my own comments and tricks, which are highlighted in bold. Try it out and let me know what you think!
Salted Caramel & Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
Total time: 40 minutes prep & bake + 3 hours to cool
Serving Size: 9-12 generous squares
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft (1 stick) (To soften butter, place on the stove while the oven is warming up!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste
8 ounces roasted salted pecans, halves or pieces okay; about 2 cups
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate to offset the sweetness of the caramel!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup whipping cream or heavy cream (I used heavy cream)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. (Foil makes clean up so much easier!!)
- Crust – In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and using two forks or your hands (Definitely use your hands). Cut butter into dry ingredients until evenly distributed and pea-sized lumps and sandy bits form. The softer the butter is, the quicker and easier it is.
- Turn mixture out into prepared pan and pack down firmly with a spatula or hands to create an even, uniform, flat crust layer.
- Filling – Evenly sprinkle the pecans.
- Evenly sprinkle with the chocolate chips; set pan aside.
- In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt.
- Remove bowl from microwave, and whisk until mixture is smooth; it’s okay if butter hasn’t completely melted.
- Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 minute on high power.
- Remove bowl from microwave, and whisk until mixture is smooth.
- Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
- Slowly and evenly pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans.
- Place pan on a cookie sheet (as insurance against overflow) and bake for about 30 to 32 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling vigorously around edges, with bubbling to a lesser degree in center (My bars were ready in 28 minutes – make sure to keep an eye out for the bubbling. If the bars bake for too long, the caramel becomes chewy and the shortbread isn’t as moist!). Allow bars to cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 3 hours, or overnight (cover with a piece of foil and/or put pan inside large Ziplock), before slicing and serving. (They’re much easier to serve when cold, and personally I liked the texture better after they had chilled overnight!) Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months (There’s no way they’ll last this long, just saying 🙂 )