These Brown Sugar Walnut Shortbread Bars have a buttery shortbread crust followed with a brown sugar walnut topping. They are the perfect decadent treat!
I love anything with a tender shortbread cookie crust. From lemon bars to shortbread cookies, it's always delicious and the base of a great recipe! For this particular recipe, the buttery bottom with a hint of salt is the absolute perfect base for a sweet caramel like topping.
This recipe was a result of a farm tour I did with the Farm Water Coalition. I have done many of the tours before (see here, here, and here) and am amazed on educated each time we visit a new farm and region. The Farm Water Coalition works with farmers and the state to provide Californian's information on farm water and the agricultural benefits it has on our state. On this tour, we walked the walnut orchards and saw just how the nuts go from farm to table. I can tell you this- there is nothing quite like freshly harvested crunchy walnuts!
Upon returning, I was so inspired to make a sweet treat featuring these little nuggets. Walnuts are a wonderful addition to baked goods, adding an extra layer of buttery goodness to the dessert. However, if you don't like nuts, try out our Brown Sugar Bars.
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS BROWN SUGAR WALNUT BARS RECIPE
- One of our favorite family recipes- These bar cookies are easy to make and different! We love bringing them to family/friend parties!
- Caramel flavor- Once baked, the top layer produces a nutty chewy honey caramel that is absolutely delicious.
- Can easily be doubled for a crowd- Double this recipe and bake in a 9x 13-inch pan the next time you are feeding a crowd or trying to bribe someone with sugar.
WALNUT SHORTBREAD BARS INGREDIENTS
- All-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar
- Teaspoon salt
- Cold unsalted butter
- Dark or light brown sugar
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Walnuts- roughly chopped
HOW TO MAKE THESE WALNUT BARS
With only a few simply ingredients, you'll have these luscious bars ready to eat in no time!
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 square baking pan with parchment paper and spray the corners of the pan with non stick cooking spray.
- In a bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt; whisk to combine.
- Mix in cold butter using a pastry cutter or 2 knives. Shortbread dough should crumbly forming small pea sized clumps.
- Press crust into the bottom of the prepared pan evenly, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- While crust is cooling, make the filling. Whisk brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
- Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth.
- Stir in chopped walnuts.
- Pour into the square pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, until the surface looks dry and the filling has set and risen slightly. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, cut into 2-inch squares using a sharp knife.
WALNUT SQUARES POPULAR SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Use dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar for a deeper molasses taste.
- Use any kind of nut- Pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews work really well.
- Add Chocolate! Add about ½ cup of chocolate chips to the brown sugar mixture. Make them extra fancy and sweet by drizzling them with melted chocolate or white chocolate.
- Top with flaky sea salt! If you follow my site, you know I top everything with Maldon Flaked Sea Salt. It is especially good here to round out the brown sugar sweetness.
- When lining the pan, leave an inch of overhang over the sides so that you can easily remove the bars from the pan to cut into squares.
- Use aluminum foil instead of parchment- I don't highly recommend this, but if it's all you've got, it's all you've got. Just make sure to generously grease the sides of the pan and foil so the filling doesn't stick.
- Serve with a scoop of ice cream!
BROWN SUGAR WALNUT SHORTBREAD BARS FAQs
What walnuts do you use?
I typically use diamond walnuts because they are readily available at the store, however if you want to splurge try red walnuts! They taste like butter!
How do you store Brown Sugar Walnut Bars?
Keep them in a sealed airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. Refrigerate for up to one week. You can also freeze these walnut bars by wrapping each square in plastic wrap and storing in a ziplock back for up to 3 months.
Can I use granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar in shortbread recipe?
Powdered sugar is typically used in shortbread recipes for 2 reasons. First, the loose sugar, or tiny granules, produce a very light and airy shortbread cookie. Using granulated sugar will result in a denser shortbread. Second, powdered sugar contains cornstarch which gives the cookie a bit of a chew. While I recommend powdered sugar, you can substitute regular sugar if you're in a pinch.
MORE OF OUR NUTTY FAVORITE RECIPES
- Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
- Banana Pecan Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Brown Sugar Walnut Cookies
A buttery shortbread crust topped with a sweet walnut filling.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter cold and cut into 8 slices
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line or grease an 8x8 pan.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, and salt.
Mix in butter using a pastry cutter or 2 knives. Mixture should crumbly forming small pea sized clumps of dough.
Press shortbread into pan evenly, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While crust is cooling, make the filling. Whisk brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until smooth.
Stir in chopped walnuts.
Pour into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes, until the surface looks dry and the filling has set and risen slightly. Cool completely, then cut into small squares.
Recipe slightly adapted from California Walnut Board.