Lightly sweetened with maple syrup and a layer of semi-sweet chocolate, these taste-of-the-south pecan pie bars are great for picnics, tailgating...or any time you'd like a delicious treat! Head to the Simple Cookie Recipes page for more delicious cookies.
Pecan pie shouldn't just be one time a year for holidays, right? I don't think so - in fact, making pecan pie bars is actually almost better in my mind. All the tasty goodness of a pecan pie without the hassle of a pie shell, plus it's easier to serve, makes smaller portions, stores better (even in the freezer!) and transports without any worries.
Ha- I may never make pecan pie again! (Just kidding.)
Of course you know that if it comes from me, it's going to be easy.
And I pretty much think that most things are better with chocolate, so I added a layer just for fun (that's the 'black bottom' part, which I'm sure you figured out…).
But I am also discovering that we just don't need as much sugar in anything anymore, even desserts. I think the flavors of the other ingredients tend to shine more when they're not all covered with the loads of sugar often used in traditional recipes.
For example, I've adapted a number of recipes to use less sugar, including our classic addictive tomato chutney, homemade apple caramel dip, canned plum sauce, granola, and even cookies like flourless coconut almond bars and chocolate truffle cookies.
And now I can add these black bottom maple pecan pie bars to the lower sugar mix. I also chose maple syrup in the filling instead of corn syrup - it's not only a real food ingredient, I think it tastes a lot better here, too.
Make Black Bottom Maple Pecan Pie Bars
Pecan Pie Bars Baking Tips
Toast the Pecans: To ramp up the flavor from the pecans, toast them first briefly in the oven and then chop for the recipe.
Shortbread Crust: Making the shortbread-like crust in a food processor is really quick, but you can use a pastry cutter if you don't have a food processor.
Line the Pan: This is the type of recipe that you'll want to line the pan for - it will not only help them not stick to the pan, but also makes it easier to remove and cut. I used parchment, but foil will work, too, though you'll need to grease it first.
Chocolate Layer: After partially baking the crust, let the chocolate chips sit on the warmed crust for a few minutes before spreading into a layer.
Filling: Boil the filling ingredients for a minute on the stove and then pour over the chocolate layer before baking another 15 minutes or so.
While there are a couple steps to this, it goes fairly quickly, since you can cook the filling while the crust is cooling (it needs to cool about 20 minutes before adding the filling)- it takes only 20 minutes or so of hands-on time with 40 minutes total for the baking.
The whole 13x9 pan of bars uses less than 1 cup of sugar and the filling includes maple syrup to replace the more common - and sweeter - corn syrup.
You can make the crust with half whole wheat, like I did, or use all whole wheat pastry flour or even all regular flour if that's what you have.
Everyone we've shared these with has loved them - it's a great way to get that pecan pie fix in a smaller, easier to transport bar form. I know you'll enjoy these as much as we do - they may even start to replace your pie at the holidays!
Black Bottom Maple Pecan Pie Bars
- 3 ¾ cups pecan halves divided
- 2 cups flour can use 1 c. whole wheat + 1 c. regular
- 1/3 + 1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
- 1 cup + 6 tablespoons butter
- 1½ cup chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9-inch pan with parchment or greased foil overlapping the long sides to be able to lift out the bars when baked.
- Toast the pecans: spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. Chop all coarsely and set aside.
- Make Crust: In a food processor pulse the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 3/4 cup pecans and 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined. Cut a cube of butter (1 cup) into 8 pieces and add to bowl of processor. Pulse 8-10 times until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Press crust mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned at edges and remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.
- While cooling, immediately sprinkle warm crust with chocolate chips; leave for a few minutes to soften and then spread into an even layer.
- Make Filling: When about 10 minutes is left on the timer for the cooling, add maple syrup, 1/2 cup sugar, cream, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, boil for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat, add the remaining chopped pecans and vanilla, and pour over crust.
- BAKE 14-15 minutes until the filling is bubbly. Remove to a wire rack and cool for about 1 hour. Refrigerate another hour before cutting into 24 pieces.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge until serving or freeze for longer storage.
More Easy Cookie Recipes to Try:
- Delicious Multigrain Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Chocolate Drizzled Nut Squares Cookies
- Classic Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Bars Recipe
- Whole Wheat Blackberry Crumb Bars