Brown Butter Mud Hen Bars. A brown butter chocolate chip cookie crust topped with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and a brown sugar meringue.
The summer after my husband and I got married, his parents took us, along with my sister-in-law and her husband, to Alaska. We spent half of our trip at Brooks Lodge, a place where you stay in the wilderness and watch real live bears doing their summer bear things.
The lodge had a fair number of recommendations about staying in the wilderness with bears. One was to clap your hands and sing when walking through woods, so as to not startle a bear. Another was that if you came in close prolixity a bear, hold your hands up, walk backwards, don’t look the bear in the eyes, and say in a firm tone “whoa bear!” My husband and I laughed at the recommendations. But then one fateful morning, we walked within twenty feet of a bear. Y’all ….. there was no laughing ….. and there was also no “whoa bear” on my part. I froze. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t look away. Fortunately, my husband is brave, so he walked in front of me and took care of the bear speak. The bear didn’t really care about us though … he went on his way searching for salmon.
They had some strict food rules at the lodge too. The lodge preferred that you only eat food that they provided, in their approved areas. They said it helped to reduce the chance a bear would try to join you for lunch. We took that recommendation to heart. So, we only ate food they provided.
I worried about the food not being tasty, but that turned out to be silly. The food was great. Well, if I’m being honest, I only remember one thing I ate there, and that thing was great. It was a mud hen bar. I probably ate three the night the lodge had them. It was devine. Sweet and crunchy dessert perfection.
When we returned to Maryland, I wanted to recreate the mud hen bars. It took a while to first figure out that the dessert was called a mud hen bar, and took even longer to create a version that could rival my memories of the one I had in Alaska. Finally, after 5 years, my mud hen bar dreams have come to my kitchen.
This bar has a soft, brown sugar, chocolate chip cookie crust. It’s topped with marshmallows and chocolate chips, and finished with a brown sugar meringue. Be fair warned, these are addictively good.
Brown Butter Mud Hen Bars
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg plus 2 eggs divided divided
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/4 plus 3 tbsp flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup mini semi-chocolate chips
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup marshmallows
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir constantly until butter turns amber in color and has a nutty smell, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature and re-harden.
- In a large mixing bowl or base of a stand mixer, beat together browned butter, milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, sugar, vanilla extract, 1 egg, and 2 egg yolks (set whites aside as you will use them for meringue) until mixture is smooth and starts to lighten, about 3 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture until well combined.
- Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Assembly and Baking
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, folding upward at the edges, so that sides are covered as well.
- Spread cookie mixture evenly into bottom of pan.
- Spread milk chocolate chips and marshmallows evenly over cookie layer.
- In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, or in a large bowl using hand mixer with whisk attachments, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
- Fold in remaining 1 cup of brown sugar until well combined. Spread evenly over chocolate chips and marshmallows.
- Bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until meringue starts to brown.
Enjoy these Brown Butter Mud Hen Bars? You’ll probably enjoy these other SugarSpicesLife recipes: