Salted Pecan Shortbread Bars

Originally I was thinking of lemon-lavender shortbread, but then I remembered I had pecans, so, I made these instead. Next up, I’ll use lemon zest and a tiny amount of dried lavender. These shortbread are pretty easily adaptable. Enjoy your Sunday….whatever you do.

  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. cornstarch
  • 1 C. flour
  • 1 tsp of fleur de sel
  • 1-2 tsp water
  • 1/4 C. chopped, toasted pecans

Note: I toasted my pecans in a tablespoon of unsalted butter and then let them cool slightly before adding them to the dough.

With mixer, stand or handheld, cream butter and sugar together, add flour and cornstarch and mix well. You may find that the dough is quite crumbly and not hold together…at this point add a tiny amount of water until the dough starts to come together more and is well-formed. Careful, don’t add too much water! Add toasted pecans until thoroughly mixed together. Spread dough into 8″ square baking dish and, if you like, top with another sprinkle of fleur de sel. Bake at 350 for 22 minutes, or, until golden brown. Let rest in the pan and then cut into whatever size you wish and serve. I like to cut the bars on the small-ish size. Or, wrap up in wax paper and aluminum foil and seal tightly in a plastic bag to store in the freezer. These bars should last a few months in the freezer.

Variations: other nuts: swap out pecans for almonds or hazelnuts. Lemon: add 1tsp lemon zest and 1/2 tsp of crushed, dried lavender. Lime-basil: 1 tsp lime zest, 1/2 tsp fresh, chopped basil.

Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes recipe, found online

Raspberry Blueberry Coconut Bars

Sometimes things actually *do* work out. This is one of those fortunate times. I had bought some raspberries and blueberries (and blackberries, but oops, I ate those) from the Farmers Market on Saturday and wanted to make raspberry bars. I didn’t really have a recipe, so I borrowed from several recipes and hoped that this one would work out. Guess what? It did! They turned out deliciously. Then again, maybe I’m biased. Though, I did bring them to a BBQ and received rave reviews. (Yeah, me!) Further, hooray for trusting my own skills and judgment and just going with it.

I used the crust/bar part of my mom’s Toffee Bar recipe and then made a jam/liquid/preserves filling which I poured over the crust, sprinkled on some unsweetened coconut and then a bit of streusel topping and baked for another 10 min. I didn’t have quite enough raspberries, so I added a pint of blueberries. But basically, you can use whatever berry suits your fancy. Be warned, the smell of simmering berries may force you to have several “tastes” of said mixture. Ahem.

Coming up, more berries and I’ll be in Michigan, so hopefully mom and I will be in the kitchen together. I really miss that.

For the crust:

  • 2C Flour (AP)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or more if you like a somewhat saltier crust)
  • 1C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1C brown sugar
  • 1TB vanilla


As much as you want to make. Two quarts, two pints, whatever (you can always freeze the unused portion OR, put it over waffles or pancakes). Add white sugar accordingly and bring to a nice simmer. You can also add a little lemon zest at this stage.
**Also, you’ll need about a cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. I suppose you can toast this, that would be another nice flavor.**


  • 6TB flour
  • 3TB sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4C cold, unsalted butter

(cut cold butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles a sandy/pebbly mix. It should hold together if you squeeze bits in between your fingers).

Now then….instructions.

Mix the butter, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla together until it’s nice, pale and fluffy, add the flour and salt mixture until a ball of dough forms. Evenly press dough into a 9″x13″ baking dish and bake until crust beings to just turn brown, about 25 min. Keep an eye on it b/c you don’t want it to be too browned. Smooth dollops of the berry mixture over the crust, sprinkle coconut and then add the crumble/streusel and bake again for about 10 more minutes. Voila. You’re done. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 36 or so tiny squares.

Mom’s Toffee Bars

I wanted to bake something for my friend’s birthday and bring said item into work. Of course when I asked her, ‘What is your favorite cookie?’ she didn’t have an answer. So, I debated…

I decided to bake something simple, a recipe that my mom always made for Matt and I when we were kids: Toffee Bars. I had been thinking of them for awhile and didn’t have the recipe on hand. Sure, I could look it up online, but I’d rather call mom and ask for it. It’s fairly simple, ingredients wise, but oh, so good! I remember whenever mom would make them as soon as she took them out of the oven and spread the chocolate chips on top I’d ask her if I could have one. She always said, ‘No, you have to wait until they’ve cooled off!’ To which I’d ask her every ten minutes, ‘are they cool yet??’

Mom always made these with margarine, but I only had butter on hand. Either works well. When I asked her if the butter had to be room temperature she said, ‘You know, Martha always says to do that and to have eggs at room temp, but I never do because I don’t think it matters.’ (I laughed and pretty much agreed*). She also always topped them with chopped walnuts too. I used milk and dark chocolate chips because that’s what was in my fridge.

Toffee Bars

1c. Butter or Margarine
1c. brown sugar (light or dark, I used dark)
1tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
2c. flour
1/2tsp. salt
1 bag of chocolate chips (less or more, depending on taste)
1/2c-1c. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios)
Sprinkle fleur de sel on top of melted chocolate

Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease a 9″x13″ baking dish (glass or metal) and set aside.
Combine the flour and salt in small bowl, set aside. In a larger bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add egg yolk, mix well. Add flour mixture until fully combined. At first, the dough is really crumbly, but turn up the speed on the mixer and it will get more thick/heavy. Press dough evenly into pan and bake for about 20-25 min. You don’t want the dough to be browned, but lightly tan. Pour chips on dough and spread melted chips with knife or spatula. Let cool and cut into whatever size bar you choose. Store in airtight container. Will last for a week…depending on how many cookie monsters live in your house.

And yes, as soon as I spread the chocolate and set them on the table to cool, I cut myself a tiny piece, took a bite and said ‘Yep, just as excellent as I remember.’
I think my friend will be happy with the results.

*Though, lately mom and I have both realized there is a method to the madness. If any recipe you’re making calls for room temp. eggs or butter, follow it. Because, well, baking is all about science.