Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

I normally don’t like nuts in desserts, but I recant everything I’ve ever said after these.

They’re some of the best bars I’ve ever made.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

To top it off, I don’t even really like pecan pie but the inspiration for the bars started after trying a rich, buttery, chewy caramel with nuts from See’s Candies, and I’ve always loved their chocolate-coated walnut chews.

The pecan pie bars combine rich, gooey, homemade salted caramel filling with chocolate, there’s texture and crunch from the nuts, and the soft, tender shortbread crust is the perfect base for it all.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

The bars are thick, rich, decadent, filling, salty-and-sweet. They’re wonderfully satisfying, easy, no mixer is necessary and I always prefer making pie bars to actual pie. So much easier.

To make the shortbread crust, I used the same crust I created for The Best Lemon Bars and Peanut Butter Caramel Twix Bars. A bit of cornstarch keeps the crust tender enough so when you bite down, it isn’t rock hard, nor does it give way and crumble.

The crust is hearty enough to stand up to a literal pound of nuts, chocolate, and salted caramel sauce, while staying perfectly flaky and not tasting too dense or heavy.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

Then I sprinkled on Trader Joe’s roasted salted pecans and chocolate chips. If your pecans are raw, toast them for 5 to 10 minutes in a 400F oven for added flavor and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Making the salted caramel sauce is as easy as melting together butter, cream, brown sugar, and stirring in vanilla and salt. So easy and it’s done in the microwave in two minutes.

As the bars bake, the caramel sauce thickens and the finished bars are more caramely than traditional pecan pie filling, which I call ‘pie goo’. The bars have some goo, but there’s plenty of luscious, drippy, salted caramel.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

The bars aren’t overly sweet, but they are ridiculously rich. They are worth all the cardio you’ll need to do.

They are good enough to forever change my mind about nuts in desserts and pecan pie.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars - You'll never want plain pecan pie again! Caramel and chocolate makes the bars taste amazing!

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Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

The bars are one of my all-time favorites, even if you're not a huge pecan pie fan. They're thick, rich, decadent, filling, salty-and-sweet. The pecans add amazing texture, crunch, and are a great contrast to the soft, tender shortbread crust, homemade salted caramel sauce, and chocolate. The bars are wonderfully satisfying, easy, no mixer is necessary, and are easier than making pie. I used roasted salted pecans and if yours are raw, toast them for 5 to 10 minutes in a 400F oven for enhanced flavor and sprinkle with a pinch of salt before using them in the recipe. While the bars bake, the easy caramel sauce made in the microwave thickens and the finished bars are loaded with luscious, drippy, salted caramel.

Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 to 12 very generous squares

Prep Time: 20 mintues

Cook Time: about 30 to 32 minutes

Total Time: about 4+ hours, for cooling and setting up

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste
Filling
8 ounces roasted salted pecans, halves or pieces okay; about 2 cups (I used Trader Joe's roasted salted halves)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. I strongly urge lining the pan with foil for easier cleanup.
  2. Crust - In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients and using two forks or your hands (I find hands easier), 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.
  3. Turn mixture out into prepared pan and pack down firmly with a spatula or hands to create an even, uniform, flat crust layer.
  4. Filling - Evenly sprinkle the pecans.
  5. Evenly sprinkle with the chocolate chips; set pan aside.
  6. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, whipping cream, and heat on high power for 1 minute to melt.
  7. Remove bowl from micro, and whisk until mixture is smooth; it's okay if butter hasn't completely melted.
  8. Return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 minute on high power.
  9. Remove bowl from micro, and whisk until mixture is smooth.
  10. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
  11. Slowly and evenly pour the caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans.
  12. 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. 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. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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79 Responses to “Salted Caramel and Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars”

  1. #
    51
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) — July 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

    these bars are the perfect example of something I wouldn’t have thought I liked a few years ago but, now that I know better, I’m all like *droooooool* must. have!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 2nd, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Feel the same was as you do – tastes DO change even as an adult!

      Reply

  2. #
    52
    Amy @ Amy's Healthy Baking — July 4, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Oh Averie, I wish I could meet you in real life! First you’re speaking my language with your salsa, now you’re talking about how you don’t like nuts in desserts… Me either!! I always pick nuts out of brownies, and usually cookies too. I’d rather eat them plain by themselves or in a salad. I want my cookies soft and chewy, no strange hard things in the middle! ;) But if you said these changed your mind forever about nuts in desserts, they must be out of this world!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 5th, 2014 at 12:38 am

      They were crazy good and totally DID change my mind about nuts in desserts!

      Reply

  3. #
    53
    Tracy | Pale Yellow — July 5, 2014 at 7:09 am

    These look amazing! Totally pinned!

    Reply

  4. #
    54
    laurel @wannacomewith — July 12, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I have no words – this just looks insanely delicious. I won’t be making this until the weather cools off (ugh, so hot), but I’m definitely making this some day. Pinned.

    Reply

  5. #
    55
    Renee — July 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I was excited to see this recipe, but sorry to say it was a flop for me. The caramel during baking turned out odd, (I followed instructions to the T) the crust didn’t bake through, the foil stuck and it tore the bottom up even more trying to peel it off. Perhaps if I ever try this again I’ll pre-bake the crust, then just proceed like a traditional pecan pie and use chocolate chips & skip the caramel part. I really wanted to love this.

    Reply

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