I dare say these pecan pie cookie bars are 10 times better than regular pecan pie. A brown butter shortbread cookie crust and a bourbon and medjool date filling makes them absolutely to-die-for! These are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert spread!
how to make brown butter
Brown butter is my absolute favorite ingredient for taking baked goods to the next level! The toasty, nutty flavor pairs beautifully with the pecans and bourbon in these cookie bars!
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Once melted, stir frequently and watch closely for the formation of brown specs on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma.
- Once you see brown specs, stir for just a few more seconds (it browns super quickly).
- Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a different bowl to prevent it from burning.
- Let the butter cool slightly (5-10 minutes) before using.
prepare your pan
I love all of my USA Pan* cake pans because they are extremely sturdy and truly nonstick. However, I still like to prepare my pans to ensure the cookie bars come out easily.
Cut a parchment paper sling slightly smaller than the width of the pan and make sure it fits flatly in the bottom. Then lightly spray the bottom and sides of the pan with a vegetable oil based spray (I love Bakers Joy or Everbake). Place you parchment paper sling in the bottom of the pan and smooth it out so that it sticks to the pan spray (you can use metal binder clips to secure it to the pan). After baking you’ll be able to just slide the pecan pie bars right out of the pan!
pecan pie filling tips
The secret ingredient in these pecan cookie bars is Medjool dates! They help sweeten and thicken the filling and add incredible flavor! You can find Medjool dates in the produce section at most grocery stores and lately I've been getting mine in my Imperfect Foods box.
The most important step in making these bars is tempering the egg. I know that sounds scary, but I promise it's not that hard! Tempering just means that you'll slowly add a small amount of hot liquid to the beaten eggs so that the temperature rises slowly and they don't scramble (trust me, you don't want scrambled eggs in your pecan pie filling).
Once the filling mixture begins to boil, you'll remove about ¼ cup and place it into a glass measuring cup (the best for pouring hot liquid) and then slowly drizzle the syrup into the beaten eggs while whisking. Then you'll add the warm egg mixture back into the rest of the syrup. Easy peasy!
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Pecan Pie Cookie Bars
Brown Butter Crust
- 1 cup unsalted butter, browned
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all purpose flour
Pecan Pie Filling
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 10 medjool dates, chopped
- 2 cups pecans, chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Brown Butter Crust
- Brown the butter: In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir frequently and watch closely for the formation of brown specs on the bottom of the pan and a nutty aroma. Once you see brown specs, stir for just a few more seconds (it browns super quickly). Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a different bowl to prevent it from burning. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 8x8 inch pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the browned butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined. Then fold in the flour and mix until the dough comes together.
- Press the dough into your lined baking pan and smooth into an even layer. Poke a few holes in the dough with a fork to allow air to escape while baking.
- Bake the crust at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.
- Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling (the crust does not have to cool completely before filling).
Pecan Pie Filling
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, and heavy cream in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine the ingredients and dissolve the sugar.
- Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 3 minutes while stirring frequently. Carefully spoon about ¼ cup of the mixture into a glass measuring cup to temper the egg.
- Whisk the egg in a small heat-safe bowl and slowly drizzle the ¼ cup of syrup into the egg as you continue to whisk (whisk continuously so that the egg doesn't scramble). Once the egg and ¼ cup of syrup are fully combined and smooth, then pour back into the syrup mixture and stir until combined.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the Medjool dates, pecans, and cinnamon.
- Pour the filling evenly over the slightly cooled cookie crust.
- Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. If the top begins to get too brown, loosely cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time.
- Remove from the oven and allow the bars to cool all the way to room temperature in the baking pan.
- Once cool, use the parchment paper sling to pull the pecan cookies out of the pan and then slice into bars.
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