Mud Hen bars are one of those old fashioned recipes with several different back stories. Some date this recipe back 50 years, other 100 years. Some versions contain pecans in the dough, other sprinkle them on top of the dough and still others use a layer of chocolate chips and marshmallows in place of the nuts.
But there are a few consistencies. The bars almost always start with a sugar cookie-type base, pressed into a 9” x 13” pan. And regardless of the filling, the topping is always a brown sugar meringue, which miraculously puffs up and crackles during the baking process.
We kept true to these components, with a slight twist to the filling – using a layer of peach preserves to offset all that sweetness contained in the dough and meringue.
Mud Hen bars are a perfect picnic, barbecue or pot luck dessert!
Mud Hen Bars:
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups brown sugar, divided
- 3 eggs divided as follows: 1 whole egg + 2 yolks, 2 whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 – 13 ounces peach preserves
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees; line a 9” x 13” pan in both directions with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Beat the butter with 1 cup of the brown sugar till light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides. Add the 1 whole egg and 2 yolks, along with the vanilla extract and beat again. Scrape down the sides. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat till just combined.
Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth into an even layer. Top with the preserves. Clean and dry the mixer bowl.
Using the whisk attachment, beat the 2 egg whites on low speed till the surface is covered in bubbles. Raise the speed to medium high and gradually add the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar. Raise the speed to high and beat till stiff peaks form. Spread the meringue evenly over the preserves.
Bake for 30 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack. Use the parchment or foil “sling” to transfer the bar to a cutting board and cut into 24 squares.