Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Walnut Bars

This recipe was originally called Black Walnut Bars, but as I was fresh out of black walnuts, I could only use what I had on hand, which was regular walnuts. But, hey, if you have black walnuts in your pantry, go ahead and use them! The cookbook I found these bars in is one of the books I found at my local flea market called "Great Home Cooking in America". It's by the Food Editors of Farm Journal so you know these recipes are good old down home country baking recipes!
I seem to gravitate towards the more old fashioned cookbooks of this kind, rather than the newest and pricier books that are recently out at the bookstores. Must be the country girl in me! Ha!
Getting back to the recipe, according to the book, black walnuts are popular in baking in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, which is only about an hour from here. But this recipe is actually from Iowa.
I've made a few changes to the original recipe. I made these bars twice. The first time I thought the crust had way too much butter so the second time I almost cut the amount of butter in half and it was much better. I also never use margarine and the recipe called for either butter or margarine so I chose, of course, butter.
The bars remind me of a pecan pie, with the filling kind of gooey in the center and the crunch of the nuts on top. And you could certainly swap out walnuts and use pecans, if you don't like walnuts. It's really really a delicious dessert bar, just remember to let it cool for a few hours before cutting into squares. Because the bars are a bit on the rich side, you may want to cut them into small squares, like 2" x 2", although the recipe says to cut them 2" x 1".

Start with the crust by mixing the flour and brown sugar together in a large bowl, then cut in the butter (I used my fingers) .
Press crust into your pan and bake 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool 10 minutes.

Beat the eggs til light, then gradually beat in the brown sugar and vanilla.
Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the egg mixture along with the nuts.

Spread onto the baked crust and ...

Place back in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes, or til nice and brown on top.

The center sets better if you let it bake til the top is a nice darker ( but not burnt!) color.
Just be sure to let it cool in the pan for a few hours before you cut into squares, so the center sets better.
Black Walnut Bars ( adapted from "Great Home Cooking in America" by the Food Editors of Farm Journal)
(The book states the recipe makes 5 dozen 2" x 1" bars..yes, they're quite rich!)

2 cups AP flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter ( I cut down to 10 tbsp.)
4 eggs
2 cups light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp. AP flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped black walnuts ( or regular walnuts or pecans, even)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or butter a 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" jelly roll pan. ( I halved the recipe and used an 8" x 8" pan.

1. Mix together the 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of brown sugar in a large bowl.
2. Add the butter and mix with your fingers til crumbs form.
3. Press mixture into your prepared pan and bake 10 minutes.
4. Take crust out of the oven and let it cool about 10 minutes.
5. Turn oven up to 375.
1. Beat eggs til light.
2. Gradually beat in the 2 cups brown sugar, then the vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the 2 tbsp. of flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Add this to the egg mixture along with the nuts.
5. Pour onto the crust and bake about 20 minutes, or til the top is a nice darker ( but not too dark browned) color.
6. Cool bars in pan for a few hours so the filling sets well. Cut into sizes you like.


  1. Yum! I don't have black walnuts, so I'll be following your version.

  2. Oh yes, these are so good!



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