Sometimes I truly am the last to know.
One day a few months ago, Lulu and I found ourselves at a little neighborhood coffee stop called Zinc (now closed. Boo hoo!). We had stopped in for an after school snack and ordered a pecan bar and a chocolate chip cookie. We sat with our dog Fergie at an outdoor table and each tasted the cookie. Freshly baked. Solid flavor. Good. But then...
Then, we cut into the pecan bar.
(Pause for dramatic effect.)
Most pecan bars mimic pecan pie: shortbread crust, a custardy layer, floating toasted pecans. But the pecan bar we tasted that day at Zinc with its graham cracker crust and gooey-yet-crunchy center knocked our socks off. Literally, we had to walk home barefooted. (Wink, wink.)
I had to know what the heck these bars were made of. Finding no info on Zinc's site, I sought out a recipe or lead across the web and discovered, to my simultaneous joy and dismay, that these bars that originated at Julienne's in San Marino (practically next door to my mom's house in Pasadena) were all over the interwebs! Joy because so many have discovered them. Dismay because I would hardly be the first one to share them. But, it's no wonder these are as ridiculously blogged-about as they are. With a base layer of graham cracker cookie, a gooey layer of brown sugar custard and more graham cracker (the mystery ingredient that creates the toffee-like texture and flavor) and the topping of toasted pecans, these are an even tastier version of the classic pecan bar. These are perfect if you want to show up at a gathering with something new and different because despite their obvious popularity on the web, they're not a mainstream dessert. We've made them a few times: once with chocolate, and that was good, too. But I have to admit I prefer the buttery-caramelly-taste of the bars without chocolate. (A true first.)
Seriously, though, I can't praise these highly enough. You'll LOVE them.
Julienne's Graham Cracker Pecan Bars
Originally posted by the LA Times April 5th, 2009
Yields 24 2" bars
3 C graham cracker crumbs
3/4 C butter, at room temp
1/4 C sugar
2 T flour
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and flour until well-blended.
3. Press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of a 13"x9" baking pan.
4. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
2-1/2 C brown sugar
2/3 C graham cracker crumbs
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 t kosher salt
1/2 t baking powder
1 C pecans, chopped & toasted
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs. Whisk in the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder until well-blended. Stir in the pecans.
2. Spread the mixture over the baked crust and return to the oven until the filling is golden on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.
3. Cut into bars and serve.
P.S. When I said they were all over the interwebs, here's what I meant: The Kitchn has them. Someone called Megabite has made them. The LA Times has posted the recipe several times. And you can find them here, here and here. For Pete's sake, they even have Pinterest boards dedicated to them.