brown butter-candy cookie bars


For those of you that celebrated, I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends! With the day behind us, it’s time to look ahead to Christmas and five weeks of holiday baking. I don’t think my pantry has ever been so full – I just bought my first box of candy canes, and baking chips plus other candy seems to lurk on every shelf. Willpower is an absolute must this time of year – I try to open the pantry as little as possible, only pulling out chocolate and candy as needed for baking, and not just for an afternoon snack!

First up, I’m sharing brown butter-candy cookie bars. The recipe calls for two rounds of brown butter – one for the cookie dough base layer and one for the filling, but the work is worth it. Imagine a toasted oatmeal-pecan cookie topped with a brown butter filling studded with Rolo caramels in milk chocolate. The combination of oatmeal, pecans, brown butter, and Rolo candies is pure decadence!

Thanks for your entries to my OXO giveaway celebrating two years of blogging; if you haven’t entered yet, there’s still time – the giveaway ends Sunday afternoon.

Brown Butter-Candy Cookie Bars
Base Layer
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup low-fat milk
3 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Rolo mini caramels, halved

For the base layer, cook 1/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes. Pour browned butter into a glass measuring cup and chill in the freezer until solid, about 30 minutes. Remove from freezer to soften slightly. Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with parchment paper.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; place on a plate lined with paper towel to cool slightly. In the same skillet, toast pecans over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly, then pulse 1/4 cup pecans in a food processor until coarsely ground; add oil and process until a paste forms. Coarsely chop remaining 1/4 cup pecans.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat solidified brown butter and sugars in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined, then beat in pecan butter. Reduce speed to low and mix in toasted oats and pecans. Gradually add flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Scrape dough into prepared baking dish; use a piece of parchment to press dough into an even layer. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

For the filling, cook butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes. Pour browned butter into a glass measuring cup to cool slightly. Whisk together egg, milk, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in browned butter; whisk mixture until completely blended.

Pour filling over cooled crust; top with Rolo caramels. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes, until set and golden. Cool bars completely in pan on a wire rack, then freeze pan for 20 minutes. Carefully lift parchment to remove bars from pan and place on a cutting board; cut into squares using a sharp knife. Store leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before serving.

Yield – 16 bars (serving size: 1 bar)
Calories – 170
Carbs – 19

  1. Oh my goodness. These bars are speaking words of love to me right now. Rolos make my world go around and in these bars? HEAVEN.

  2. Oh, my. I LOVE Rolos and Rolos with brown butter in cookie bars sounds incredible!!!! These will go on my must make list! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, Laura!!!

  3. Brown butter, chocolate and caramel-oh my! This would have to be baked and hidden as it would disappear before I could get a bite:)xx

  4. You had me at browned butter! The cookie bars must be AMAZING…..because browned butter is beyond wonderful in sweet treats. They sound heavenly, Hugs, Terra

  5. At my houseI would need to hide the candy! Brown butter paired with Rolo’s is just spectacular! The Rolo’s peeking through the icing are such a tease! A most seductive cookie bar!

  6. Another lovely bar recipe that looks totally irresistible! This would be gobbled up in a hurry at my house and dangerous to have alone with me lol! Hope your Thanksgiving was blessed as well Laura!

  7. Okay, you had me at brown butter.. and then it kept getting better + better! I think brown butter is marvelous, so I can only imagine how tasty these candy cookie bars are. And what a genius idea to gift them! Talk about an awesome, fool-proof present.

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