Here they are: BROWN BUTTER chocolate pecan bars (or BBCPB, according to my affectionate abbreviation for them). Brown butter and I are having quite the moment… I can’t get enough of creamy pastured butter from happy, healthy cows toasted to nutty perfection and finished with a dash of nutmeg to pull the flavor deeper into rich caramel. This depth of flavor is tempered but the sweetness of the pecans and by the bite of darkest chocolate (86% if you can find it!) and these crumbly, gooey slices of goodness get a crowning touch of edible gold leaf. Gold leaf elevates anything to the realm of a special occasion, but it’s best paired with something really worthy: sprinkled on top of decadent food, or gently folded on top of a luscious dessert like this one, or smoothed over one utterly incredible cake.
One further note regarding the role of pastured butter in a healthy diet, which may be of interest: I have been reviewing research on the topic of whether saturated fat consumption causes heart disease and cardiovascular disease generally. Very interesting reading! The idea that a diet high in saturated fat will result in heart disease and stroke seems to be widely accepted as fact. but scientific substantiation of this idea seems to be curious;y difficult to find. If you’re interested in scratching the surface of reviews by the medical community (and their conclusion that saturated fat has no negative impact on heart health), take a look at:
- Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (“there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD)”).
- A recent review in the Annals of Internal Medicine which concludes “current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats”.
- This 2015 article in the British Medical Journal which states that saturated fats are not associated with all cause mortality, CVD, CHD, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.
To quote Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole, curiouser and curiouser! Apparently the link between cardiovascular disease and saturated fat is not so scientifically substantiated as is commonly believed. There are quite a few conflicting conclusions being published, and their authors criticizing each other’s methods. I’ll enjoy another one of these Brown Butter Chocolate Pecan Bars while I investigate more research. 😉
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup pastured butter
- 1 egg
- Middle Layer
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 5 tbsp pastured butter
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
- 1.5 oz dark chocolate, shaved
- 1.5 oz dark chocolate
- Gold leaf (sheets or flakes)
- Whole pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small pan, begin melting ½ cup of butter butter over medium heat. Use a pan with a light-colored bottom so you can track the color of the hot butter. Swirl the pan occasionally to be sure the butter is cooking evenly. As the butter melts, it will begin to foam. The color will progress from lemony-yellow to golden-tan to a toasty-brown. Once you smell a nutty aroma, take the pan off the heat and transfer the browned butter into a heat-proof bowl to cool.
- In a food processor, grind the almond flour, ½ cup coconut sugar, ½ cup pecans, ¼ tsp salt and pinch of nutmeg together until it is the texture of coarse sand. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl, and stir in the cooled brown butter and egg until a dough forms.
- Press the dough evenly into the bottom of a 8" round cake pan, and cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges.
- While the crust bakes, make the middle layer. Heat the honey, ¼ cup coconut sugar and 5 tbsp butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until thickened and caramelized. Stir in a pinch of salt, the vanilla extract, and 1½ cup chopped pecans.
- Remove the crust from the oven once it has finished baking, and sprinkle 1.5 oz of shaved dark chocolate evenly over its surface. Layer the caramelized honey/pecan middle layer over the shaved chocolate.
- Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the top layer has set. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
- For additional flair, melt the remaining 1.5 oz of dark chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat until smooth. Cut the bars into slices, then press a sheet of gold leaf over each slice, position one or more whole pecans on top of the gold, and then drizzle with melted chocolate.
- Repeat until all slices are decorated.