American Independence Day is a call to commemorate our history with electrifying fireworks, stretch out our beach towels and crank up some American tunes in our backyards. For me, it’s time to pull the checkered table cloth over the picnic table, fire up the grill and celebrate food that is native to our diverse and ecologically rich country. The recipe for Browned Butter Blueberry Pecan Pie Bars honors two native North American species—the pecan and the blueberry. Browning the butter deepens the hickory notes of the pecans. Lemon zest added to the filling highlights the sweet-tart flavors of the blueberries.
A necessary addition to any picnic.
1.5 cups AP Flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup toasted pecans, cooled and finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1.5 sticks unsalted butter, cut in one inch pieces.
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of one lemon
½ cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
3 cups rinsed blueberries
For the cookies…
1) Start with the crust. Line the bottom of the 13×9 inch baking pan, horizontally, with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil hangs over the handles of the pan. Layer one more piece of foil vertically on top. The idea is to create a cradle so you can lift the bars out of the pan—using the foil overhang as handles. Spray the foil lightly with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, pecans and salt. Set aside.
3) Now comes the hard part; browning the butter. But it’s worth it, I promise! Put the butter into a small sauce pan over low heat. Once the butter is melted so there aren’t any solids left, turn up the heat. Keep a hawk’s eye on this. Do not step away from the stove. Let the butter boil, whisking frequently. You will know the butter is browned when it smells nutty and brown particles start to form. As soon as this happens—you are on the precipice of burning the butter, so immediately remove it from the heat. Let it stand for 45 seconds.
4) Pour the butter into the flour mixture and until well combined—but don’t overmix. Reserve one cup of the crust mixture. Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan evenly. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until very light brown around the edges.
5) While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In a medium sized bowl, light whisk the eggs. Add sugar, lemon zest, Greek yogurt and salt and whisk together until combined and light yellow. Gently fold in the blueberries.
6) Remove the crust from the oven once its baked and pour the filling over the crust. Evenly sprinkle the one cup of unbaked crust mixture that been set aside on top of the filling.
7) Bake for 40-45 minutes or until top has deepened in color, blueberries have burst and crust is set.
8) Set pan on top of wire rack and cool for 2 hours. When ready to serve, pull bars out of pan using foil overhang and slice into 2 inch by 2 inch cubes or into your desired size.
Yields between 48 and 36 bars depending on the size. Will last for a couple of days wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.