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Browned Butter Chocolate Walnut Derby Bars

A fresh take on the classic pie, with a new format - and the addition of bourbon cream.
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Cooling time 2 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 15 bars


  • 9" x 13" pan


Shortbread Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup browned butter
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


  • 2 cups walnuts toasted (see note)
  • ½ cup browned butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon cream optional - see note
  • ½ cup flour
  • 8-10 oz. high-quality chocolate chopped (either a broken up bar, or name brand chocolate chips)


  • Place three sticks of butter in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir constantly. Once melted, allow the butter cook for 7-12 minutes, until the butter is starting to turn slightly brown and develop a nutty smell. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • While the butter is cooling, prepare your pan. Grease a 9” by 13” pan. Place an extra-long sheet of parchment into the pan lengthwise, with approximately 3 inches of overhang on either side.
  • Sift powdered sugar, flour, and cornstarch into a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 cup of cooled browned butter and vanilla bean paste and mix until combined. Press into your prepared 9” by 13” pan and refrigerate for 20 minutes, allowing the butter to firm up, while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Once the dough has cooled, bake for 20 minutes.
  • While the shortbread crust is baking, mice toasted walnuts to desired texture and set aside.
  • Whisk your remaining ½ cup of browned butter together with brown sugar until creamy. Stir in eggs (one at a time) and bourbon cream. Mix in flour, stopping once just combined, before adding the toasted walnuts. Set aside.
  • Immediately after removing the shortbread crust from oven, sprinkle chocolate chunks over its warm surface. Use a knife or offset spatula to spread chocolate in an even layer across the surface of the shortbread.
  • Carefully and evenly sprinkle walnut mixture atop layer of chocolate.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-27 minutes, until the center is just set. Allow to cool completely (approximately 2 hours) before using the parchment sling to remove from pan. Slice and serve.
  • Toasting walnuts is an optional but worthwhile way to make the flavor in these bars pop. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spread your walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes, stir with a spatula, and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing the rest of your ingredients.
  • Bourbon cream is an optional specialty ingredient. You may substitute with 1 tablespoon of bourbon plus one tablespoon of cream - though if doing so, you should add the bourbon to your batter last, to avoid causing any of your dairy products to curdle. You could also omit the bourbon altogether and just use heavy cream or milk.
Keyword bars, brown butter, browned butter, chocolate, derby bars, derby pie, walnut