Food You Can Eat: Pillsbury’s™ Brownie-Pecan Dessert Squares

For those who have cast their New Year's resolutions in the nearest garbage pail

Recipe and image of child-size portion via Pillsbury™

This is around the time of year I think we all kind of give up, don’t you? I mean those of us living in the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere. The holidays are over, no one’s throwing parties because everyone’s too exhausted and broke from holiday over-spending, it’s cold, it’s dark, this New Year hasn’t markedly changed from the Old Year, and around now is when you decide, “What I could really use right now is an entire pan of brownie-pecan dessert squares.

This is an old Pillsbury recipe I found in my “files” and as luck would have it Pillsbury™ had it online so it’s even easier for me to present it to you than it is to make. Have at it. Spring will be here soon enough.



1 (19.5-oz.) pkg. fudge brownie mix
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs 

[So if you make brownies from a brownie mix this is what the box tells you you need]


1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup pecan pieces 


1 pint (2 cups) whipping cream
1 1/4 cups milk
2 (3.4-oz.) pkg. instant butterscotch pudding and pie filling mix

How to:

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13×9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Prepare brownies as directed on package, using oil, 1/4 cup water and eggs. Spread batter evenly in sprayed pan.

Bake at 350°F. for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled.

Meanwhile, line cookie sheet with waxed paper. Melt margarine in small skillet. Stir in brown sugar and 1 teaspoon water. Cook over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture is bubbly, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans. Spread evenly on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Cool completely.

In large bowl, combine whipping cream, milk and pudding mix; beat at low speed for 1 minute. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute or until fluffy. Spoon onto cooled brownie base; spread evenly. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours. Crumble pecan topping over each individual serving.

[NOTE: The individual serving could be the entire 13×9-inch pan. The website, but certainly not my notes, says you can cut these into small pieces so it’s easier for guests to sample. Are they nuts? And not in a pecan-y way. What you do is cut out two big chunks, plate them, and set up two tray tables in the bedroom and watch classic game shows from the 1960s until the onset of light-headedness, at which point you direct Better Half to walk the Faithful Hound because it’s been a long day and you’re going to go to bed. Or maybe that’s just me.]  



    • You can make your own butterscotch easily enough, if you’re like me and had no life during the pandemic. You melt some butter in a pan, stir in brown sugar, cream, and some salt, bring it to a boil, remove from the heat, and add/stir in a little vanilla extract. If you make a big batch of this and let it boil a little longer you can pour it into a pan, wait for it to harden, and with a very sharp knife dunked in water you can make butterscotch caramels out of it. My aunt used to do this and it’s how I lost one of my baby teeth. If you use white sugar you can roll apples in it and make simple candied apples. That’s how I lost a filling, same aunt. It’s a wonder she wasn’t wearing dentures by the time she was 30.

        • To be fair, as they say in Letterkenny, the baby tooth I would have lost anyway, so no harm done. The filling I lost as a teenager when I drove myself over to my aunt’s house for some reason and she was in the middle of making candied apples for…a church bazaar? It was Halloween? Who can remember. Anyway, we hung out, and she pulled one out of the fridge and asked me to be her taste-tester.

    • Amazingly, one of the things I don’t suffer from, and it runs in my family, is diabetes. I say that today, and maybe tomorrow I’ll ask you to wish me luck as you wave me goodbye:


  1. Breaking, and not at all germane: In case anyone is still around to read this, I just heard Better Half say to one of his colleagues, over Zoom of course, “Pakistan is not the Middle East. I think what you mean is credit or lending norms in the Muslim world.” I wonder if the colleague thinks that Indonesia is a small chain of islands off the coast of the Arabian peninsula. Lest we lapse into lazy anti-American “we’re all xenophobic ” tropes, his geography-challenged colleague is not American.

    • People really stupidly conflate Islam with the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf.

      I think that’s a big reason why Bush invaded Iraq, and John Bolton came within 30 minutes of convincing Trump to go to war with Iran. It’s pretty much in league with how so many supposed experts can’t get their heads around how Egypt is part of Africa, or how Ethiopia has been Christian longer than England.

Leave a Reply