Happy fall! This is by far my favorite time of year. I love the weather, the fashion, the candles, the food, and I can unashamedly incorporate pumpkin into every meal, (including pasta...recipes to come!) pop roasted pepita seeds by the handful, and decorate my already-small apartment with too big pumpkins.
(It's also my birthday season but that's for another blog post.)
The weather is still fluctuating in NYC between sunny and 72 to 87 and rainy so maybe I can't fully break out my sweaters and riding boots and pumpkins (!!!) just yet, but I can bust out these babies: pecan salted brown butter bars. Toasted nuts and brown butter are a subtle salute to early fall without being too in your face (like pumpkin bread would be...)
You can cut these bars into thick squares as seen in the pictures and top them with ice cream, or cut them into smaller rectangles for better grab-and-go snacking.
I adapted this recipe from The Wood and Spoon blog, but added a couple twists here and there. I also developed a second version of this recipe, that's much more fall-inspired thanks to spices and good-quality bourbon. I'll throw those additions in at the end. I love making bars because they're basically the lovechild of a cookie and a cake (what's better than that?), and they're a blank canvas: throw anything in and/or on top of them, dip them, dunk them, whatever, and they'll be delicious. Totally customizable.
Pecan Salted Brown Butter Bars
- 1 cup pecans, some roughly chopped, some whole
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) salted butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup pastry flour
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ¼ tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 heaping teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 1 ¾ cups packed brown sugar
- Extra butter or nonstick cooking spray for coating the baking pan
Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a 9-x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, and coat with either butter or nonstick cooking spray. Make sure to leave an overhang of aluminum foil to easily lift the bars from the pan. Roughly chop or crush half of the pecans, before adding all of them to a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir the pecans occasionally until they release a nutty aroma and begin to sizzle slightly, about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the nuts into a bowl. In the same pan, add the pound of butter, and return the heat to medium. Allow the butter to melt completely, stirring every so often. Once the butter begins to bubble, lower the heat to medium. Large, opaque bubbles will form first before frothy bubbles do. When the frothy bubbles form, begin to stir more often until they subside and the butter appears cloudy on top. Stir constantly at this point: the butter will begin to brown very quickly! Continue to stir until it smells nutty and takes on a caramel color. This will take about six minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk in the vanilla. In another small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Once the butter has cooled, add the brown sugar and whisk well. Add the egg and vanilla mixture, whisking until completely combined. Fold in the dry ingredients and half of the nuts. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, and sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out almost – but not completely – clean. Cool completely before cutting.
For a more fall-inspired bite...
Add 1 tablespoon of bourbon to the egg and vanilla mixture, and add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder to the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the additional 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of maple sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of bourbon over the pecans. Follow the rest of the recipe as seen above.
This second version provides a warm kick, amping up the flavors of the spices complemented beautifully by the bourbon. The added warmth is perfect for fall and winter.
My name is Alexandra Jade, but you can call me Alex, or Trin. I am a Food Studies major at New York University, and a freelance photographer, journalist, and social media pro on the side. I run the instagram account @twobrunchgirls.