Isn’t this awesome? Where else can I talk about beautiful forks and sweet, buttery maple pecan pie bars all in one fail swoop? Sigh, blogging. Fab.
Now, I do cook this pie filling in a double boiler while the shortbread pre-bakes. I know that is more complicated than some other recipes, but you have to wait until the crust bakes anyways, so why not start pre-cooking the filling while you do it?
Bring these bars to your next holiday party or just anywhere, and you’ll be more popular than Zack on Saved by the Bell. (That 90’s reference just happened…)
Crunchy brown sugar pecans float on gooey, silky maple filling. All that maple goodness rests on a buttery pecan shortbread crust. These bars really are easier than pie!
For the Pecan Shortbread Crust:
1 cup All-purpose flour
¼ cup finely chopped toasted pecans* (toast before chopping)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
¼ kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
For the Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
½ cup maple syrup [The real deal. I use Grade B.]
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped*
Preheat the oven to 350° and line an 8 inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a large saucepot (or you can use an actual double boiler if you want).
Place a medium bowl over the simmering water in the saucepot. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Melt butter in the medium bowl.
Remove from heat and add sugar and salt, stirring until completely combined. Add eggs, maple syrup, corn syrup and vanilla; stirring until smooth.
Place bowl back on saucepot and let cook, stirring occasionally, until your crust is ready.
Make the Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, cornstarch, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry fork or with two knives. You could also do this in the food processor but it is so easy, it seems a shame to dirty it.
Press into lined baking dish and bake 10-15 minutes, or until it has browned slightly.
Add pecans to your filling mixture, stir, and pour onto the hot shortbread crust.
Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until the filling looks set but yields like Jell-O when gently pressed with the back of a spoon.
Let cool completely on a wire rack. Several times during the cooling process I cut around the edges to facilitate removal of the bars. If you lined your pan with parchment, you can skip this step and give yourself a pat on the back.
Cut into squares when cool.
It’s a long story but a parchment lined baking dish wasn’t possible for me, and I regretted it even though I buttered my dish. If you don’t have parchment or don’t have the patience to line a pan with it, then generously butter a baking dish. Several times while the filling is cooling, cut around the edges to make sure the sticky pie filling doesn’t permanently adhere to your baking dish.
*Toast whole Pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer for 10 minutes in a preheated 350° oven, or until you can smell them and the light parts of the pecans have turned a light golden brown. Coarsely chopped pecans will toast faster!
Total time does not include cooling time.