My maple pecan bars have a beautiful buttery brown sugar shortbread crust topped with a rich maple caramel filling and lots of pecans. They are a brilliant quick alternative to pecan pie, and will leave everyone reaching for another piece!
Why you’ll love these maple pecan bars
- They are utterly divine! Gooey and nutty, crunchy and with melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. They are honestly really hard to resist!
- Super easy to make! They are ready in no time, and are so so easy to make!
- Take them anywhere! Maple pecan bars can be transported easily, so are fabulous for picnics or taking to share with some friends.
- Well balanced! The combination of flavours in this bake make it not too sweet, but still enough to satisfy that sweet craving.
- Easy to store! You can keep these stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Or you could freeze them, so you always have a treat ready to enjoy when the craving hits!
What ingredients do I need to make these maple pecan bars?
- Flour: this recipe uses plain (all purpose) flour. I prefer using plain flour so I can control the amount of raising agent in the bake.
- Brown sugar: this adds sweetness but also a little extra moisture to the bake.
- Salt: enhances the flavour of the maple pecan bars. You will not taste it, don’t worry!
- Butter: used in the shortbread base and the maple pecan filling. Gives a beautiful rich flavour to the bake.
- Vanilla: purely for flavour. Yum!
- Maple syrup: an essential flavour in this bake, has a delicious earthy sweet flavour.
- Double cream: used in the filling for richness and flavour.
- Pecans: the other essential half of flavour in this maple pecan bars recipe. Can be substituted with other nuts if you wish.
- Egg: for structure in the filling of these pecan maple bars.
What equipment do I need to make maple pecan bars?
- Digital kitchen scales*: my recommended method of measuring out ingredients is always to weigh them. This is more accurate than using volume measurements, especially important in baking. However, I do provide measurements in grams and cups to suit individual preferences.
- Measuring spoons*: an essential tool for measuring smaller quantities such as teaspoons (tsp) and tablespoons (tbsp). Using special measuring spoons is more accurate than using every day eating spoons, so is a must for every baker.
- Food processor*: my preferred method to mix together the ingredients for the shortbread base. The ingredients could quite easily be mixed together by hand too.
- Baking tin*: I used an 8” square pan for these maple pecan bars. One with a loose bottom makes it much easier to lift the bars out of the tin after baking.
- Small saucepan*: to melt together ingredients when making the pie filling.
- Mixing bowl*: any bowl the ingredients can be mixed up in is good! Used to make the maple pecan filling, as well as the shortbread base if doing by hand.
- Whisk*: used to mix together ingredients when melting the ingredients for the pecan filling.
- Spatula*: to mix ingredients together and scrape out the mixture when transferring it to the baking tin.
How to make maple pecan pie bars
I love making these bars because they are so easy to make, and always impress people who try them. In fact, I have known people to fight over the last bar!
For the brown sugar shortbread
Step 1: Line a 8″ square pan with parchment paper, then set it aside. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Step 2: To make the shortbread crust, mix together the flour, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl or pulse in a food processor. Add in the room temperature butter and vanilla, then rub in or pulse until the mixture resembles damp breadcrumbs.
Step 3: Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and press down evenly into a flat layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes until baked. It will look slightly puffed on top but still be a little soft when pressed, and be lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on.
For the maple pecan filling
Step 1: While the shortbread crust is baking, make the maple pecan filling. Place the butter, maple syrup and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat up and bring to a simmer, then cook stirring continuously for three minutes. Take off the heat.
Step 2: In a mixing bowl, mix together the double cream, vanilla and eggs until well combined. Slowly pour a stream of the maple mixture into the egg mixture, whisking continuously until completely incorporated.
Step 3: Chop a large handful of the pecans, leaving the rest intact. Tip the nuts into the maple mixture and stir through. Pour the pecan topping over the shortbread base, spreading out evenly and lightly flattening the top layer of nuts.
Step 4: Place the tin on a cookie sheet (in case of leaks), then bake the pecan maple bars in the still hot oven for 20-25 minutes. When baked, the top will be firm and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle of the bar will come out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the baking pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars. Enjoy!
How do I know when the brown sugar shortbread is baked?
The shortbread base takes about 15-18 minutes to bake before being topped with the maple pecan filling. Baking the base before adding the pecan pie filling is important or the base will end up a soggy mess! You will know when the shortbread crust is baked as it will be soft to the touch but look slightly puffed. It will also be lightly golden all around the edges and a little shrunken in too.
How to cut and store pecan pie bars
Ensure the maple pecan shortbread bars are completely cool before cutting them. This allows the filling to set and firm up fully before it is cut, so it will hold its shape much better. Use a really sharp knife to cut through the pecan nuts too. I like to cut mine into bars, but you could quite easily cut these into maple pecan squares too if you wish.
These maple pecan bars should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for up to a week this way.
Can I freeze maple pecan pie bars?
Absolutely! These bars freeze pretty well, just wrap them tightly in cling film (plastic wrap) and place in a freezer safe container. They will keep well frozen for up to three months. I would recommend slicing up the larger bake before freezing, so you can defrost as many bars as you need and keep the rest frozen.
To defrost, simply pull out a maple pecan slice (or three!), unwrap it completely and leave to thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours.
Can I make these bars gluten free and dairy free?
Yes! To make these pecan bars with maple syrup gluten free, simply substitute the flour in the sweet shortbread base with a gluten free flour blend. For better texture, you may also want to add an additional ¼ tsp xanthan gum too.
To make these maple pecan bars dairy free, you will need to substitute the butter in both the shortbread crust and the maple pecan filling for a dairy free block butter alternative. You will also need to substitute the double cream in the filling for a suitable alternative too.
Additional tips for making the best pecan bars ever!
- Remember to work with all the ingredients at room temperature for easy baking.
- Press the shortbread crust down really firmly before baking. This gives a good firm base for the filling that will not fall apart when cut.
- Do not, I repeat DO NOT try to bake these as an all in one! The crust will not bake up, and the whole thing will be a soggy mess. Take the time to bake the shortbread base before adding the filling for best results.
- I prefer leaving my pecan nuts more whole than chopped in this bake as I like the way it looks in the topping. However, you can definitely chop up all the nuts if this is your preference, and it will still be delicious!
- You could optionally add a sprinkling of salt over the top of the maple pecan bars after they are baked. This would give an almost salted caramel type of flavour to the bars, taking them to the next level! However, they are also pretty good just as they are!
If you have any questions about this, please comment below and I will do my best to help. And do remember: if you enjoy this maple pecan bars recipe, please leave a rating and review below. You could even post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world. You already know I would love to see!
More recipes from my blog for you to enjoy
If you enjoyed these maple pecan bars, please do have a look at these recipes I think you will love too!
Strawberry rhubarb crumble bars: My strawberry rhubarb crumble bars have a wonderful crumble topping with a beautiful vibrant red fruit filling. Perfect to enjoy when both fruits are in season.
Banoffee crumble: banoffee lovers, this one is for you! So simple to make, and utterly divine, this crumble brings the best of banoffee pie into autumn comfort bakes. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream for the ultimate cosy weather treat!
Sticky toffee pudding: this cake is light and delicious, especially served with lashings of smooth toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. This classic British bake is the ultimate comfort food, and it is so easy to make!
Thanks so much for joining me today, my friends. Happy baking! x