Maple pecan bars are made with a brown sugar shortbread crust and rich maple pecan pie filling. These squares taste just like pecan pie!
Oh how I love pecan pie. Is thick, rich filling is paired off with crunchy, nutty pecans. I emulated this popular Thanksgiving dessert in the form of maple pecan bars. These squares have the same mouthwatering pecan pie filling flavored with pure maple syrup. Instead of a flaky pie crust, the crunchy, sweet filling sits on top of a buttery brown sugar shortbread crust.
I suggest making these bars for Thanksgiving or Christmas, however, the maple flavor makes for a good dessert anytime during the fall or winter. Here are some tips to perfect maple pecan bars…
Brown sugar shortbread crust
Brown sugar is an ingredient that complements desserts featuring a maple and/or pecan flavor. These bars have both! The shortbread crust is simply comprised of flour, light brown sugar, salt and unsalted butter.
Whisk together the dry ingredients first, then cut the cold, cubed butter in the mixture using a pastry blender. I really like this one. I’ve had it for years and it works like a charm! The mixture will form small pea-sized chunks. Once it all starts coming together, transfer the dough to a prepared baking pan and use the back of a measuring cup to press the dough flat (see photos).
Partially bake the crust before pouring the maple pecan mixture on top. The filling will be thin and will need a solid base to bake on.
How to make maple pecan pie filling
The filling for these bars is very similar to that of a pecan pie with a couple changes. Instead of using corn syrup, I opted for pure maple syrup and this filling is eggless.
To start, heat the butter, maple syrup and brown sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. The butter will melt and the mixture will start to boil. Allow it to boil for a minute to the mixture thickens a bit.
Immediately stir in the heavy cream followed by the chopped pecans. The warm mixture can be transferred immediately to the partially baked shortbread crust.
Should pecan pie filling bubble?
Yes! Pecan pie filling typically bubbles and these maple pecan bars are no different. In fact, I take the bars out of the oven when the filling is still bubbling. The center is usually set so it barely jiggles when the pan is gently shaken. Remember this is a syrupy filling that sets when cooled.
Can I freeze maple pecan bars?
I like to serve my desserts fresh, but if you are planning ahead for the holidays these bars can be frozen a month ahead of time. To do so, remove bars from oven and cool completely. Do not cut. Wrap the entire square in parchment paper and the aluminum foil. Freeze on a flat surface. When ready to serve, defrost the bars in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature. Cut and serve.
Pecan dessert recipes
The holidays calls for pecan desserts. If you like these maple pecan bars, I suggest trying these recipes as well…
- Best pecan pie recipe with homemade pie crust
- Maple cake with maple cream cheese frosting and candied pecans
- Bourbon pecan pie brownies
- Mini pecan pies
- Maple pecan cupcakes
Give this recipe for maple pecan bars a try. The buttery brown sugar shortbread crust and crunchy pecan filling is a match made in heaven! If you try one of my recipes, be sure to tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media!
Maple Pecan Bars
Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust
- 1 1/4 cups (156 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (67 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (113 g or 1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Maple Pecan Filling
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2/3 cup (133 g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups (8 oz or 226 g) coarsely chopped pecans
Brown Sugar Shortbread Crust
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- To prepare the crust, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture forms small, coarse crumbs.
- Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. I like to use the back of a measuring cup to press the dough flat, but you can also use your hands. Bake 14-17 minutes or until the edges are golden and the top feels firm when lightly touched. Set aside.
Maple Pecan Filling
- Keep oven preheated to 350° F.
- To make the filling, place a saucepan over medium heat and add the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Stir until the butter melts and the brown sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 1 minute.
- Remove the maple mixture from the heat and immediately stir in the heavy cream. Then stir in the chopped pecans. Pour the hot mixture over the partially baked crust. Using an offset spatula, spread evenly and place in the oven.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes. The filling will rapidly bubble across entire surface. The bars are done with the bubbles are tiny and the center is set when the pan is gently shaken. Let cool for 1 1/2 hours.
- Using the ends of the parchment paper, lift the maple pecan square and the liner out of the pan. Remove paper. Using a large, sharp knife, cut into 16 (or smaller 25) squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Freezing maple pecan bars
- You can freeze the maple pecan bars for up to a month. To do so, remove bars from oven and cool completely. Do not cut. Wrap the entire square in parchment paper and the aluminum foil. Freeze on a flat surface. When ready to serve, defrost the bars in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature. Cut and serve.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Baking