Maple Pecan Pie Bars
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Instead of pecan pie this year, try my maple pecan pie bars. They’re gooey, sticky, maple-flavored pecan bars. These bars are going to be the best dessert this holiday season! They’re made with a shortbread crust rather than a traditional pie crust. Trust me, everyone will be asking for seconds!
Or ‘peeecans’ as it’s pronounced by some. How ever you choose to say it, it’s here and it’s in full swing. And while I have yet to make a traditional pecan pie this season, i’ve already got all sorts of holiday goodies going. Have you tried my pumpkin cupcakes yet? They are absolutely out-of-this-world delicious.
In additional to pumpkin cupcakes, i’ve made another batch of my all time favorite chocolate pecan coffee cake. It’s a traditional yellow coffee cake with swirls of chocolate and pecan throughout. The pinch of cinnamon in this coffee cake gives it the most decadent and bakery-like flavor. Trust me, it’s a coffee cake that’s sure to please everyone this holiday season.
It’s definitely been a pecan loaded week for me.
Today’s pecan pie bars are the epitome of dessert bars. And there is no way you’re not going to want to try these. Let me explain why: first you have a buttery, slightly salty, slightly sweet, crust. I love shortbread crust way more than traditional pie crust because 1) it’s easier to make 2) it requires no chilling time 3) it make these bars so much more yummy then pie crust would.
Secondly, this dessert takes under an hour to make from start to finish! You could probably even have the dishes done in that time as there are only a few dishes required.
Just a bit of butter, some flour, a pinch of salt, and some brown sugar. You can pulse everything together in a food processor or use a pastry cutter to break the butter into the flour. Also, you can use granulated sugar if you like for the crust, but since we’re using brown sugar in the pecan pie filling, I figured let’s shorten the ingredient list where we can.
Get the crust going in the oven while you prepare the pecan pie bar filling. The crust will need additional time to cook than the filling will. So pop it in the oven while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it doesn’t require a mixer at all and doesn’t require more than just a few dishes. Hallelujah! That means less clean up later. And i’ll take the liberty of speaking for everyone when I say there are far better ways to spend your time than washing dishes. Am I right?
And now for the pecan pie bar filling. To give these bars the perfectly gooey and buttery center, I combined three different sweeteners. We’re using a bit of light brown sugar, some corn syrup, and maple syrup. The maple syrup is purely used in these pecan bars for ‘maple’ flavor. The corn syrup and brown sugar is what gives these bars the sweetness. A couple eggs, a whole tablespoon of good vanilla extract, half a stick of salted butter, and a good pinch of sea salt tie the pecan pie filling together.
Be sure to use salted butter for this recipe. I love the combination of salty and sweet in these pecan bars – it’s perfectly balanced. It makes them so much more interesting than just having super sweet dessert bars. And when that scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream hits these pecan pie bars, you’ll be glad you went with salted butter! 😉
See those little cracks around the pecans? That’s the sign of a perfectly cooked pie, or pecan pie bars in our case. Serve these bars by themselves, with a little whipped cream, or if you want to be super naughty, serve them warm with a big scoop of french vanilla ice cream.
The bottom line is this: these pecan pie bars are exactly the kind of nutty dessert that you need to try this holiday season. Your guests will be raving about them well into the New Year!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) cold salted butter, divided
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup (golden syrup)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups (8 ounces) whole raw pecans
To make the shortbread crust:
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8x8 baking dish with foil or parchment that goes all the way up the sides, so it is easy to remove the bars from the baking pan. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of light brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/2 sticks butter in a food processor and pulse until mixture begins to form small lumps. Alternately you can combine the ingredients in a large bowl and using a pastry cutter, break the butter into the flour until the butter is cut enough to resemble the size of peas or oat flakes. Sprinkle the mixture into the baking dish and press, creating an even layer of shortbread crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown in color.
To make the pecan pie filling:
- In a medium bowl that is microwave safe, melt the remaining 1/2 stick of butter. Whisk in the corn syrup, remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and vanilla extract. Continue to whisk until all the lumps from the brown sugar have been worked out. Add the pecans and stir. Pour into the prepared shortbread crust. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the center is set and the pecans start to brown. Cool the baking pan on a wire rack. Remove from baking pan and allow to cool completely before cutting and serving. Serve by themselves, with whipped cream, or a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Shortbread crust adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
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