Graham Cracker Chewy Bars

by Hilary Gauntt on September 29, 2011

This is a recipe from Susan Campoy, chef/owner of the French-inspired bistro and bakery called Julienne in San Marino, Ca.  I couldn’t wait to try it after reading her introduction: “I love watching people’s expressions when they bite into these bars for the first time. The textures and flavors –rich toffee, a chewy center and a crunchy bottom –make everybody smile. The secret is not to over-bake the crust. Serve them at room temperature so the flavors meld together.” Sadly, Susan passed away recently due to complications from breast cancer. Julienne’s continues to operate under the direction of her daughter, Julie Campoy. A life goal for this mother-daughter partnership was a  cookbook, which was recently released and is called “Celebrating With Julienne.”

Each bar is like a perfect minature pecan pie baked over a wonderfully crumbly graham cracker crust. This recipe is a keeper! Cut into small bars as they are rich and sweet.

Crust

3 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbs. flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and flour until moist and well-blended.  Press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking pan.  Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Topping and Assembly

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

4 extra-large eggs

2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup pecans, chopped

1 prepared crust

Powdered sugar, if desired

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs to blend.  Whisk in the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder until well blended.  Stir in the pecans.

Spread the mixture over the baked crust and return to the 350 degree oven until the filling is dark-golden on top and jiggles slightly when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. ( I think 25 minutes is right) . Transfer pan to a rack and cool completely.

Sprinkle a light coating of sifted powdered sugar over the pan if desired and cut into 24 bars.  The bars can be made one day in advance.  Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature.

Note:  One standard 14.4 oz. box of graham crackers makes the exact amount of crumbs you will need for both the crust and filling. The first time I made these they came out great!  The second time I was so concerned not to overbake them that I underbaked them and they were a gooey mess. But a delicious gooey mess…These would be great for the holidays.

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