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These Salted Honey Walnut Bars are addicting cookie bars made of a shortbread base covered in chewy honey walnut filling. I like to top them with a drizzle of chocolate and a big pinch of sea salt!
Are you on board the salted honey train? Thinking about hopping off? In the dining car, reading a newspaper and looking dapper? Or are you in favor of salted honey but tired of tortured food metaphors? Whatever your position on the salted honey trend, I hope you’re open to one more variation on the theme. You won’t be sorry–it’s a good one!
Inspired by the ubiquitous Salty Honey Pie from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook that has been whirling around food blogs for the last year, I decided to tackle my own salted honey dessert. If you haven’t seen the pie, it’s basically a single-crust pie with a filling of pure honey custard, enlivened with a little (actually, a lot) of salt. I’ve seen a lot of delicious-looking versions, and while I admit I’m a little curious to try it out, I also think that a pure slice of honey on a plate sounds too intense for me.
Instead, I made these honey-packed bars, whose strong honey flavor is tempered by a buttery shortbread crust, a thick layer of savory walnuts, a generous drizzle of chocolate…and of course, those big flakes of crunchy salt on top! It’s the salted honey dessert of my dreams.
Regular readers will know that it takes a special recipe to get me really excited about a non-chocolate dessert. Put me in front of a fudgy brownie (or a bowl of ganache) and I squeal like a schoolgirl at a One Direction concert (sidenote: do the kids still like 1D? Please enlighten this wizened old woman). Offer me a blondie or a snickerdoodle, on the other hand, and I give a vaguely enthusiastic head nod like a schoolgirl at a Barry Manilow concert.
But these bars…they had me headbanging (metaphorically) and moshing (still metaphorically) and eating them by the handful (sadly, that part is literal.)
Something about the combination of the crispy, buttery crust, the crunchy walnuts, and the honey filling, with its luscious caramel texture, really got to me. The flavor and texture are both perfectly balanced, and although the ingredient list would have you believe that these are a painfully sweet bar, somehow the salt and the dark chocolate combine to make them not at all cloying.
I cut these into slender fingers, thinking that dainty rectangles would help with portion control. Wrong! Please come and remove the remainder of them from my house stat. One cannot (well, should not) live on Salted Honey Walnut Bars alone…although I’m certainly making a valiant effort.
I think these would make a great edible gift, because they stay fresh for days and days. The honey layer really helps keep them moist, so if you can swing some protective packaging, this would make a great care package for your favorite far-flung friend. Or eat them all yourself! I dig that too.
More Bar Cookies You’ll Love
Salted Honey Walnut Bars
For the Crust:
- 9 oz all-purpose flour, 2 cups
- 4 oz powdered sugar, 1 cup
- 8 oz unsalted butter, 1 cup, at room temperature
For the Filling:
- 6 oz unsalted butter, 12 TBSP, cubed
- 7.5 oz brown sugar, 1 cup, packed
- 12 oz honey, 1 cup
- 10 oz walnuts, 2 1/2 cups, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 4 oz heavy cream, 1/2 cup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt, or Kosher salt
- 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 tsp large-flaked sea salt, for finishing
To Make the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil up and over the sides, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and butter in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for 20-30 seconds, until the mixture comes together into a soft dough. Don’t overprocess it—stop when there are still a few bits of dry flour remaining, and knead the rest in with your hands.
- Press the crust into the prepared pan, then bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until it is golden brown around the edges. Cool the crust while you prepare the filling.
To Make the Filling:
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir while the butter and sugar melt. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil, stirring only occasionally, for five minutes. After five minutes, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the walnuts, cream, vanilla, and fine sea salt.
- Pour the filling over the crust and bake the bars for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through the cooking time, until the bars are bubbling all over. They won’t be completely set, and should still jiggle when you move the pan, but the filling should have bubbles over the entire surface. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
- The bars will firm up as they cool, so for the cleanest cuts, make sure they’re completely cool before cutting them—either by letting them sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or by placing them in the refrigerator for an hour. Cut them into small squares or slim rectangles.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave, and drizzle the chocolate over the tops of the bars. Sprinkle a big pinch of large flaked sea salt over each bar. Refrigerate them again, briefly, to set the chocolate before serving.
- These bars keep very well for several weeks. The bottom stays relatively crisp and the top stays moist from all of the honey. They’re a good make-ahead dessert and can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks, or in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
I can definitely get behind this particular trend…especially if it means treats like this 🙂
The honey salted trend sounds like a keeper to me. These bars look so obey and gooey. I can see why you couldn’t stop yourself from digging in.
This dessert. Holy-freaking-molky, this dessert! It might be my favorite thing you’ve made like, ever. And while I haven’t made any salty honey recipes of my own (though, like you, I’ve been pondering for quite some time) I’m definitely on the train, sipping tea with my pinky in the air, like a boss.
I can’t get over how amazing that filling looks. UGH…I have to go get a snack now. 😉
I am all over this like bees swarming honey! Great job and beautiful photography! Pinning…
Shoot, there’s a salted honey trend?! Why didn’t my agent tell me! Just kidding, just kidding. Well, if it’s anything like salted caramel, I’ll have a little honey with my salt, thank you very much! These look super ooey-gooey and delicious, well done!
Oh yeah! A slice sounds so much easier to manage than a pie…and by that I mean we get to eat so much more!!!
These look out-of-this-world amazing!! I’m a huge salty and sweet fan, so even though it’s played out, I don’t care. I LOVE it. I think the shortbread crust is a great idea to add texture and a little balance to a honey filling. And the drizzle of chocolate makes it even better 🙂
These look so delicious and so tasty, can’t wait to make these, yum !!! 🙂
I don´t even know what to say! No tengo palabras (like the Spanish would say). I´ll say this: they look tasty!
These bars look so good! I love the mix of crunchy and gooey, and salty and sweet that is going on here.
Oh, heck yeah!!
That is all I have to say. 🙂
Oh my beautiful! Where have you been all my life? Salted Honey Walnut Bars…welcome home…I hope you love it in my warm belly! It’s warm here and we will both be happy. 🙂
Mmm.. so sweet and delicious! I need to make it!
Oh wow, these look amazing. I love walnuts, I love honey, I love the two of them together. I’m sure they taste amazing! Well done!
these look amazing. I love walnuts, and this is combination with salted honey is yummy.
So I didn’t even know about the salted honey train! But I am curious! These bars look absolutely delightful and maybe these will be the first salted honey recipes I try! 🙂
Consider the chocolate and topping salt optional for older people like me who don’t need more salt. They are fabulous just so!
Oh yes, the topping is definitely optional (and not at all healthy 😉 ) I’m glad you enjoyed them, Chris!
These sure were delicious! Everyone I gave them to loved them. Just a little confusion with the measurements- it says 8 oz of butter (1 cup). But 8oz of butter doesn’t equal 1 cup, it equals 1/2 cup. So I put in the cup of butter and it was nice and buttery heheheh.
Hi Ben, I’m glad you liked the bars! 8 oz of butter is actually 1 cup. If you buy your butter in sticks (in the US at least), each stick of butter is 4 oz, or 1/2 cup. (There are also usually labelled on the sticks.) So 8 oz is 2 sticks is 1 cup. Glad they worked out for you!
These were absolutely delicious! I had 5 people wanting the recipe after taking it to a Ladies meeting. I am not a big fan of walnuts but they went perfectly in this recipe. I will be making this again!
Oh, wonderful! I’m so glad to hear they were a hit for you, Celeste! 🙂
Is it 12 oz honey or 1 cup which is 8 ounces. Recipe says 12 oz or 1 cup
Hi, both are correct. 1 cup = 8 oz only works when measuring the volume of liquids in a measuring cup. These ounces are referred to as fluid ounces, abbreviated fl oz in recipes. The 12 oz in this recipe are referring to weight, not volume, and are just called “oz” to distinguish them from fluid ounces.
1 cup of honey weighs 12 ounces on a kitchen scale, so both measurements are right. I provide both since some people prefer measuring cups, and some prefer to use a scale. Hope this helps!
Love making these!
Salty, sweet, nutty and delicious! I always feel like I’m pampering my guests when I make these
Hey Karen, I am happy to hear that! Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it!
This is my #1 treat to share with friends and co-workers. I never add the chocolate as to me, it’s a distraction to the rest of the ingredients.
Withy powdered sugar in my cupboard I am wondering if a shortbread could work as the crust?
Hey Judy, I am so thrilled to hear you love the recipe so much! That makes me so happy, I haven’t tried using a shortbread crust myself to be honest. However, I think it should work totally fine! I would love to hear how it goes if you give it a try! Thanks so much for your feedback!
I followed the recipe exactly and both the base and topping were far too soft to serve.
Hi Bobby, I am sorry to hear that they were to soft to serve that is disappointing! I would love to help you troubleshoot, however it is hard to know what went wrong without more details about the ingredients and procedure. Was the crust golden brown when you took it out of the oven? Sometimes the times for baking need to be adjusted depending on the oven. It is really helpful to keep an eye out for those visual cues. Also, what was the texture of the filling when you took the baked bars out of the oven? Did you try letting them chill in the fridge to firm up after baking? Feel free to email me, and I would love to troubleshoot further with you!
Amazing. Can’t stop eating them. Totally addicting and so easy to make. Forget your diet!
Thank you Kerry! I’m so glad you enjoyed them 🙂