A layer of buttery shortbread topped with a gooey mixture of honey and walnuts, these bars are easier to make than you'd think and very delicious! It's a great recipe for the holiday season and as a finger dessert for parties.
Whether you call them honey walnut squares or bars, these are delicious, crunchy and just perfectly gooey.
A twist on traditional pecan bars, I love that both the shortbread base and the topping are easily made with a bowl, a spatula, and a saucepan.
A great dessert for parties, they can be cut into small pieces and used as finger food. Everyone will rave about them!Vintage Kitchen Tip
This recipe, as with many bars or squares, has two parts:
- The crust, which is a shortbread (flour, powdered sugar and butter) and comes together in no time.
- The filling, which is made in 5 minutes in a saucepan. And you probably have all ingredients in your kitchen right now.
- Baking: the final step and a very important one because the chewiness will depend on the correct baking time so the filling is neither too hard nor too runny.
Making shortbread is super easy and all you need, besides few and simple ingredients, is a bowl and a spoon.
- Butter: it must be at room t°, or soft.
- Powdered sugar: if you sift it before adding it to the butter (image 1) it will be easier to incorporate.
- Flour: all-purpose or cake flour can be used. Patiently work it with the spatula (image 2) until it's all mixed and a cohesive dough forms.
Once you have the shortbread dough mixed, you need to pat it into the pan.
I like to line the pan with a wide strip of parchment paper because it makes it easier to remove the walnut squares from the pan after baking.
- Put small pieces of dough all over the bottom of the pan. Then, with your hand, pat the dough (image 3) until it covers it completely.
- Prick the bottom lightly with a fork (image 4) and bake as directed.
The ingredients for this wonderful filling are simple (image above).
- Honey: use any runny honey that you like. If you choose a flavored one (eucalyptus for example) the bars will have a different flavor.
- Walnuts: broken pieces are fine, and they're usually cheaper. Again, use your favorite kind.
- Brown sugar: I like the medium colored one because it gives the bars a nice golden color without making them too dark.
How to make it
This honey walnut filling is made in a saucepan, similar to the butterscotch bars, starting with butter, honey, and sugar (image 1).
It boils for 5 minutes and foams a lot during that time (image 2).
Then the rest of the ingredients are added and the filling is poured into the prepared pan (image 3).
After baking the honey squares will be golden and bubbly (image 4).
- Shortbread base: it can easily be frozen before baking. When I have a lot of baking to do, I prepare the base, prick it and freeze it in the pan. Then I bake directly from the freezer.
- Filling: I think that honey and walnuts is the best combination, but you can use pecans.
- Storing: these bars can be stored in the fridge for several days, always well wrapped to prevent drying out. Or keep them in a tin separated in layers by parchment paper.
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For shortbread base:
- 1 cup (140g) all-purpose or cake flour
- ½ cup (60g) powdered sugar
- ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the filling:
- 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter
- ½ cup (60g) brown sugar
- ½ cup (175g) runny honey
- 1 cup (120g) walnuts, very coarsely chopped, or in halves
- ¼ cup (60g) whipping or double cream
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest (about ½ a lemon)
For the shortbread base:
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Butter or spray an 8-inch square pan and line with a wide strip of parchment paper. It will cover the bottom and two of the sides.
- In a large bowl mix soft butter with powdered sugar. It should be creamy.
- Add flour and patiently incorporate it all until you have a soft dough. I use a spatula or a wooden spoon.
- Put this dough in the bottom of the prepared pan in small mounds. With your fingers pat until it covers the whole surface.
- Prick with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes, until starting to dry and barely color. Reserve on a wire rack while making the filling.
- Leave the oven on.
For the filling:
- Put butter, honey and brown sugar in a medium saucepan.
- Cook on medium heat until it breaks a boil. It will start to bubble.
- Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. It will foam and maybe you want to lower the heat a bit.
- Remove from heat and immediately add the walnuts, cream, salt, vanilla, and lemon.
- Pour into the pre-baked crust and return to the oven for 20 minutes. It will be bubbling and still look wet and somewhat runny, but not as much as before baking. The filling hardens a lot when it cools down, and if you bake it too much it will become so hard it will be almost impossible to eat.
- Remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes on a wire rack.
- Carefully run a smooth-bladed knife around the edges so that they don't stick when it cools completely.
- Cut into squares and serve. Or refrigerate for 1 hour after it has cooled down completely and then serve. The squares will hold better.
Shortbread base: it can easily be frozen before baking. When I have a lot of baking to do, I prepare the base, prick it and freeze it in the pan. Then I bake directly from the freezer.
Filling: I think that honey and walnuts is the best combination, but you can use pecans.
Storing: these bars can be stored in the fridge for several days, always well wrapped to prevent drying out. Or keep them in a tin separated in layers by parchment paper.
- Prep Time: 30
- Cooling time: 90
- Cook Time: 30
- Category: Bars & Brownies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: 1/9
- Calories: 504
- Sugar: 34.4 g
- Sodium: 9.3 mg
- Fat: 35.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 46.8 g
- Protein: 3.9 g
- Cholesterol: 71.6 mg
Keywords: honey walnut squares, honey bars
Adapted from Rosie's Bakery Cookbook, by Judy Rosenberg