These triple layer bars are a cross between candy and a cookie. A brown sugar shortbread crust, gooey caramel, crunchy pecans, and a layer of milk chocolate. You’re going to love every sweet and sticky bite!
These bars can be made ahead and they are great for celebrations, cookie platters, and as part of a holiday dessert spread.
What I love most about this recipe
Flavor: The classic combo of caramel, pecans, and chocolate along with the addition of brown sugar shortbread. Similar to our Maple Pecan Pie Bars but with more caramel.
Texture: Gooey, creamy, crunchy, sweet, and salty!
Make ahead: These bars have to cool for a few hours before slicing and serving, so they are a great make ahead dessert.
Unique: Not quite a cookie and not quite candy – this is a delicious mashup.
Butter: Unsalted butter is used in both the crust and the caramel sauce. It helps make these bars rich and flavorful.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar adds a deeper, richer sweetness than white sugar. It’s used in both the crust and caramel sauce.
Pecans: This gives the classic “turtle” flavor, but you could easily swap the pecans for another nut or even a combination of nuts.
Milk chocolate chips: I tested this recipe with all different types of chocolate, and milk chocolate was easily the winner. It’s sweet and creamy and the perfect complement to the other flavors.
Salt: Salt is added to the crust and the caramel sauce to keep the bars from being too sweet. If you want a more noticeable salty-sweet balance you can also add a sprinkling of flaky finishing salt (like Maldon) on top of the melted chocolate.
Recipe overview (3 parts)
*Full recipe below in recipe card*
Crust: A mixture of brown sugar, flour, butter and salt. Press the mixture into the bottom of a lined 8×8 pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
Caramel and pecans: Make the stove top caramel sauce. Add the pecans to the crust and pour the caramel sauce over the top. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Chocolate: Milk chocolate chips get sprinkled on top of the warm bars. The heat will melt the chips and make them spreadable.
Serving and storage
Cool the bars to room temperature before cutting. Serve at room temperature for the best texture.
Store, tightly covered, at cool room temperature, for up to 3 days.
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Chocolate Caramel Pecan Bars
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into large pieces
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1¼ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack set in the middle of the oven. Line and 8×8 square baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Lightly grease it and set it aside.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, flour, and salt until fully combined (it should look crumbly). Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press it into an even layer (I use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup). Bake the crust for 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of bake time, begin the caramel sauce.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine butter, brown sugar, honey, cream, and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top of the crust. Pour the caramel sauce, in a back and forth motion, evenly over the pecans. Carefully return the pan to the oven and back for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the caramel sauce is gently bubbling all throughout. Place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then proceed with the topping.
- Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top of the caramel layer. Allow to sit for 5 additional minutes, the heat from the caramel will soften the chocolate chips. Use an offset spatula to spread the melted chocolate chips into an even layer. Don't press down too firmly or you'll disturb the caramel underneath. Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting and serving.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.