11 Dec Gram’s Pecan Squares #fbcookieswap

Gram's Pecan Bars | Butterlust Blog

It’s The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 recipe reveal day!

Wahoo! Do a little happy dance!

If you’re a food blogger and you’re not in on this, you should be. It’s been so much fun.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is a nationwide cookie swap centered around raising money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. When you sign up you donate a small amount to charity (I think it was $3-4 dollars this year), then the magicians over at the cookie swap castle (Lindsay and Juliematch you up with 3 food bloggers from around the country. You then bake your most delicious (and durable) holiday cookies, and ship them to your new blogger friends. And in return, 3 other blogger friends who have been given your name, send cookies to you!

Gram's Pecan Squares | Butterlust Blog

Basically, your mailbox overflows with cookies for like a week. Best. Week. Ever. Make sure you share some with your mail man because I’m sure he will be super tired from lugging around giant boxes of cookies all day.

For my first cookie swap I decided to make Gram’s Pecan Squares. Which are more cookie bars than actual cookies, but they’re damn good so I don’t think anybody is going to rat me out for bending the rules.

The recipe is from my boyfriend Steve’s great grandmother’s collection and were his favorite growing up. I’d actually never had them before I made them for the cookie swap. Risky, I know.

Gram's Pecan Squares | Butterlust Blog

Gram passed away a few years ago so I’ll never have the honor meeting her or tasting her Pecan Squares. And while I know very little about her, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a recipe gal. You know that stereotype that all little Italian grandmas can cook knock-your-socks-off meals through only smell and senses and memories of cooking with their own little Italian grandmas? Without even thinking about a recipe? Well, I’m pretty sure it’s true. And from what Steve tells me, Gram fit the mold quite perfectly.

So, as I looked over the sparsely-detailed the recipe, my baker’s OCD started to kick in. Ruining your boyfriend’s family heirloom recipe when you claim to be little-miss-baker-extraordinaire would be an embarrassment of epic proportions.

But this was no time to cave under pressure. I had cookies to make and blogger friends to feed! Plus, Steve was watching so it was important that I maintained my cool…on the outside at least.

Gram's Pecan Squares | Butterlust Blog

Much to my dismay, my first batch didn’t turn out so well. The chocolate mixed with the melted butter from the caramel layer and never fully hardened, and the caramel layer wouldn’t stick to the cookie layer. BUT when I held all the pieces together and managed to get a bite, I knew I had to keep trying. Because a) I couldn’t shame Gram like that, b) chocolate (!), caramel (!!) and pecans (!!!), and c) Steve was still watching. (Cool, calm & collected.)

Gram's Pecan Squares | Butterlust Blog

As it t turns out, all I needed was a little practice. Batch number 2 (and 3, 4, and 5) turned out beautifully. Yes, I made these cookies 5 times in two days. Cookies for days!

The secret is to let the cookies cool just enough before adding the chocolate layer, so that the caramel layer firms up but they’re still warm enough to melt the chocolate chips. That way the layers stay separate and the chocolate can completely harden as it comes back to room temperature.

I did alter Gram’s original recipe, but only slightly! I added 1/2 tsp of vanilla to the caramel as well as 2 tsp of salt sprinkled over the stop – these guys are rich and the salt is the perfect addition to cut through the sweetness.

Gram's Pecan Squares | Butterlust Blog

Even with my little changes, Steve game me the thumbs up. I think Gram would approve! Hopefully my new blog friends do as well!

You can check out more Food Blogger Cookie Swap Recipes by searching for the hashtag #fbcookieswap. There will be a recipe round up next week featuring the over 500 recipes shipped out by food blogger this year! I’ll post a link to it on my Facebook & Twitter. Make sure you check it out – there will be a little something for every one and it will act as a great resource for your Holiday baking!

Gram's Pecan Squares | Butterlust Blog

Merry Merry!

XO, Katie

Gram’s Pecan Squares #fbcookieswap


    For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • For the caramel layer:
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • For the chocolate layer:
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp salt


  • Line a 13x9 dish with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 350F.
  • For the crust:
  • Combine the flour, brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until dough forms fine crumbs.
  • Press dough firmly into the lined dish to make your crust layer.
  • Evenly distribute pecans over the dough and set aside.
  • For the caramel:
  • In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the entire surface starts to boil.
  • Boil for 1 minute, stirring the whole time.
  • Add the vanilla, stir to combine and pour the caramel over the unbaked crust & pecans.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the entire caramel layer is bubbling.
  • For the chocolate layer:
  • Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. You want the caramel layer to set, but still be warm enough to melt the chocolate.
  • Pour the chocolate chips evenly over the cookies and let sit for 5 minutes so the chips can melt. Use an offset spatula to spread the melted chips in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and holiday sprinkled, if desired.
  • Before cutting let cool completely, until the chocolate has hardened. (You can put them in the refrigerator to speed up this process).
  • Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces and serve. Will keep for up to 2 weeks when stored in an airtight container.

  • Steve's Gram -Mickey
    Posted at 20:56h, 11 December Reply

    It’s wonderful to see my mom’s pecan sq. baked again, and yes she was a wonderful cook, your blog is beautiful. Merry Christmas

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 14:42h, 12 December Reply

      Thank you Grandma Mickey! They were so much fun to make! Merry Christmas to you too!

  • Dina
    Posted at 06:43h, 12 December Reply

    they look yummy and festive!
    Dina recently posted…Dutch BoterkoekMy Profile

  • Lily @ Life, Love, and Cupcakes
    Posted at 11:46h, 12 December Reply

    Omg I want these right now! It sounds like your changes were perfect as well!
    Lily @ Life, Love, and Cupcakes recently posted…Gift Ideas for Bakers aka My Christmas WishlistMy Profile

  • Helen
    Posted at 10:25h, 15 December Reply

    Great post! I can’t wait to try your modifications. One thing to note about Gran’s recipe is that she only ever used Land ‘O Lakes butter in any of her recipes. She swore it made a difference. Don’t know how true that is, but who am I to argue with her success.

    • KWahlman
      Posted at 13:19h, 16 December Reply

      Thank you! I actually did not use Land ‘o Lakes (budget shopper) but I have read studies on the fat/water content of different brands of butter and Land ‘o Lakes has one of the best ratios so there is definitely some truth to Gram’s success!

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  • Angie
    Posted at 07:32h, 23 December Reply

    Hi Katie, I am Gram’s other daughter. So happy you posted one of her best loved recipes on your blog. Is is true that she would only use Land o Lakes butter, as well as Nestles Chocolate chips. I remember making these treats at my home with my Mother and using what I had on hand which was not the two name brands she used. Results–not good. In some cased Mom does know best.


    • KWahlman
      Posted at 09:22h, 23 December Reply

      Hi Angie! Thanks so much for commenting – I have heard so much about you! This is the first I’ve heard of the Nestle Chocolate Chips, I think I may have used Hersheys (I usually buy whatever name brand is on sale). Thanks for the tip, I’ll make sure to use Gram’s favorite brands next time and report back on how the results are affected. Merry Christmas!!!

      • Angie
        Posted at 22:30h, 25 December Reply

        You seem to have done just fine the way you have been making the pecan squares, so if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

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