A Candy-Cookie Hybrid Your Dentist Won't Approve Of (But Your Friends Will)

Extra ingredients—like a half-jar of tomato paste, or a discarded rind of Parmesan—and a combination of various recipes can give rise to innovative dishes.

Like these chocolate caramel walnut bars, born from a spare cup of walnuts I found in the freezer and two recipes I'd been eyeing. They're a delicious hybrid of a butter pecan turtle bar and a walnut square—a candy and cookie at once.

The base of the bar is a thick batter studded with chopped walnuts, originally a recipe from the Diamond walnut bag in the '80s. Because it yielded a more praline-type confection and I wanted something chewier and more blondie-like, I added graham cracker crumbs and some butter.

Photo by Posie Harwood

For the topping, I borrowed some inspiration from chocolate pecan turtle bars—an over-the-top, three-layer cookie with blondie, sticky caramel, and chocolate—from an old Land O’Lakes box. The classics stick around for a reason!

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Whip up a quick faux caramel by boiling together brown sugar and butter, then pour that over the walnut batter and bake until puffed and set. The caramel will sink into the bars while they bake, adding a gooey sweetness that contrasts nicely with the more humble base.

Then, as soon as you take the pan out of the oven, top it with a few handfuls of chocolate chips while it's still hot so that they melt into a gooey layer.

Your dentist will surely not approve. But your friends, coworkers, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, and so on will be happy.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amy
  • Ko Akasaka
    Ko Akasaka
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Amy August 25, 2019
If you're like me, you won't read this until after you've made this defective recipe. Something is very wrong. I've tried this 2 times and each time, these turned out to be a gloopy, oily, soft mess. If you go to the recipe itself and read the comments, you will read the same poor results. Posie Harwood does not have this on her own website I've noticed, but it remains here, unchanged. I wish Food52 would take off the label 'Test Kitchen Approved'. In this form, there is no way this recipe went through any test kitchen. such a waste of good ingredients. This recipe needs serious tweaking.
Posie (. August 25, 2019
I’m so sorry you had so little success with the recipe! I loved it as did other testers but I’m going to make it again this week and make sure that it works just right for me — if there’s anything amiss, I’ll report back.
Ko A. April 25, 2016
It sounds very good. I would like to have it with black coffee or tea.