Pecan Pie Bars
OMG. No, seriously. OMG. These pecan pie bars are amazing.
I’ll just come out and say it then: these pecan bars are easily one of my favorite current desserts. And I make a lot of desserts. So just know. Just know how special these are.
I’ve actually never posted a pecan pie recipe on the blog before. But honestly, it’s 1000x times simpler and more hassle-free to make these pecan pie bars than it is baking up a pecan pie from scratch. AND, these pecan pie bars taste even better than pecan pie, imho.
So, in summary, I don’t even feel bad about the lack of pecan pie on the blog, now that you’ve got these bars.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty then. Or rather, the flaky-buttery.
Because these pecan pie bars have a flaky, buttery crust. It’s a tender shortbread-style crust that’s made by creaming butter and confectioners sugar until fluffy and then adding vanilla extract and flour and salt. The crust is par-baked before getting the hot pecan filling poured over it.
This shortbread crust is just a tad sweet and extra tender from the powdered sugar and is so crispy and flaky and full of rich butter flavor and is quick and basic and oh so perfect. Especially when accompanied by our pecan pie filling here.
Now now. This pecan pie filling. IT’S EPIC. And it’s made without corn syrup!
Here’s what it’s like: it’s sweet and sticky and buttery and has hints of vanilla and is chock-full of coarsely chopped pecans and once baked up gets incredibly chewy and caramely and candy-like.
The pecan filling is so simple to make too. All the ingredients - butter, brown sugar, your choice of honey or maple syrup (I like using half honey and half maple), whole milk, vanilla extract, and salt - are simmered together in a saucepan for a minute before getting the pecans stirred in.
Pour that hot filling over the hot par-baked crust (that’s right, no need to wait for either one to cool) and off to the oven the tray goes.
But oh. Lest I forget. Before you insert that pan into the oven, do finish the pecan pie bars off with a sprinkling of flaky salt.
I wouldn’t even call this step extra. I’d call it essential. Because a sweet pecan filling complemented with a sprinkling of flaky salt is so blissful it simply cannot be omitted. I mean, it can, technically, if you’re really not a fan of sweet + salty, but, like, just give it a chance for these pecan pie bars, please please.
And also, these pecan pie bars freeze wonderfully well. So, do feel free to make these bars now for an event that’s in a month’s time. Or, make them now, freeze them, and pop a couple out whenever the pecan pie bar craving is real. Because oh, it is real.
Crispy, flaky, crunchy, chewy, soft, tender, buttery, caramely, nutty, sweet + salty - you see me, pecan pie bars, you see me.
Pecan Pie Bars
Yield: 16-24 bars
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups packed flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
-Flaky salt, for sprinkling (optional, but highly recommended)
1. Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13” baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some excess hanging over the rim for easy removal later.
2. Cream together the butter and confectioners sugar until mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, flour, and salt and mix until dough forms.
3. Spread dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until the edges are just golden, 13-16 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the pecan filling: in a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt together all the filling ingredients except the pecans. Allow mixture to simmer for 60 seconds (not longer) and then remove from flame. Stir in the pecans.
5. Pour the hot pecan mixture over the hot crust and spread it evenly. Sprinkle flaky salt on top. Return pan to the oven and bake until the entire surface is bubbling, 13-17 minutes. Don’t over bake. The filling will look liquidy but will set as it cools.
6. Allow bars to cool completely in the pan at room temperature, or in the fridge or freezer. Once hardened, lift bars from the pan by the excess parchment paper. Slice into bars of desired size (I cut 8 by 2 rows, 16 bars total). Store bars at room temperature.