Friday, January 2, 2015

Salted Caramel Maple Pecan Pie Bars

This is the dessert I made for the pre-Thanksgiving dinner.  I thought every single word in the title was so exciting, and really elevates pecan pie to something special.  This recipe has a shortbread "pie crust," with a pecan pie filling - except it's better because it's maple-y!  Then I was supposed to drizzle the bars with salted caramel sauce, but I didn't have any and I didn't get around to making my own.

Can we talk about drizzling things with caramel sauce for a minute?  There have been at least 2 dessert recipes that I have made recently that called for caramel drizzles, and I have skipped it on both.  It's not that I don't like caramel, but I hate sticky fingers.  And messy foods.  I have this thing about people with food on their faces... it makes me wonder if I will be able to have children.  So maybe someday I will finish recipes like these and add the sauce, but I felt the need to explain myself.  Keep your sticky fingers to yourself.

The cool thing about these bars is that people will think you slaved over them for hours, but they are surprisingly quick and can be made in one bowl.  I love that.  Caramel sauce or no caramel sauce, people loved these bars.  I had planned to bring another batch to Thanksgiving but I came up with three different ideas (they're coming up next); however, I am sure they would have disappeared there as quickly as they disappeared here for Pre-Thanksgiving:)


salted caramel maple pecan pie bars
from Averie Cooks
makes 9 - 12 bars

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 large egg
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1/3 cup maple or pancake syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 cup pecans (you can use raw or roasted, salted or unsalted, whole, halves or pieces)
about 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce for drizzling


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8" baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray and set aside.  Don't skip this step!

2) Make the crust.  To a large bowl, add flour and brown sugar, and cut in the butter using 2 forks or a pastry cutter.  Keep working until butter is evenly distributed and pea-sized lumps and sandy bits form.  The softer the butter is, the quicker and easier it is.

3) Turn mixture out onto prepared pan and hardback it with a spatula or hands to form a smooth, even crust.  Bake for 17 to 18 minutes, or until crust is just set.  Don't over bake it because pan is going back into the oven after filling it added.  While crust bakes, prepare the filling.

4) Make the filling.  To a large bowl (same one used for crust is fine, just wipe it with a paper towel), add the egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and whisk until combined.  Stir in pecans.

5) After crust has baked, gently and carefully pour filling over crust, smoothing the pecans with a spatula or your fingers to evenly distribute them. Make sure they're not clustered in one area and they're as flat as possible because edges or corners that are jutting up will be prone to burning.

6) Bake for 16 to 19 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly.  Use an oven mitt to shake the pan gently starting at 16 minutes, and use your judgement from there.  The bars will set more as they cool.  Place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 1 hour before drizzling with salted caramel, slicing, and serving.  Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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