These Maple Pecan Bars are great company for those chilly evenings spent under a quilt and duvet this time of year! ❤
If there’s one thing that’s been keeping me from jumping on to the fall desserts bandwagon, it’s the pumpkin spiced goodies I see everywhere. (There I said it!) I’m sorry. But to me pumpkin is a vegetable. One that isn’t even the slightest bit tasty as a vegetable. How could it taste good as the base of a dessert?
To be fair I’ve never tried it. And I probably never will.
That brings me to the next fall-y ingredient that’s stealing the show – Pecans. A nut we Indians go most of our lives never hearing of. Some really sweet, nutty goodness we miss out on. I only heard of pecans about four years ago, when someone offered me a taste of a pecan sticky bun at a food fair, saying it was only sweetened with pecan juice (is that a thing?). Needless to say, it was not the best introduction.
But since, I’ve warmed up to this delicious nut, occasionally popping a handful into my favourite granola, and dipping them into freshly made caramel. Also, I love pairing pecans with maple syrup, another ingredient that we don’t hear much of, and one that costs an arm, leg and kidney to buy in India! Luckily in Muscat, it only costs an arm. Which is a price I’m willing to pay, because I lurrrvveee the good stuff! 😛
Maple and Pecan are definitely not strangers to each other. A quick search on the internet will reveal several pie, bar and treat recipes featuring the two in all their glory. I too toyed with the idea of a Maple Pecan Pie. But I’m all about eating dessert on-the-go, (I mean when we go in and out of the kitchen, that kind of on-the-go 😀 ) and turns out my close friends and family felt the same way; we’re all about the bite sized stuff. So, Maple Pecan Bars it is!
This recipe makes one batch of Maple Pecan Bars in a 9-inch square tin. Here’s what you need:
For the crust:
- All Purpose Flour – 225 g
- Unsalted Butter – 170 g, cold and cubed
- Brown Sugar – 60 g
- Icing Sugar – 20 g
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
For the Brown Butter Maple Caramel:
- Unsalted Butter – 6 tbsp (90 g)
- Maple Syrup – 1/3 cup
- Brown Sugar – 100 g
- Heavy Cream – 1/3 cup
- Pecans – 2 cups, roughly chopped
- Sea Salt Flakes – for sprinkling
Here’s how you make these heavenly Maple Pecan Bars:
- Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 176 °C/ 348 °F. Grease and line a 9-inch square baking tin with parchment paper. In a bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, icing sugar, salt and cold butter and using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the butter into the mix, lightly kneading until the mixture is crumbly and sticky and all the butter has been mixed through.
- Bake the Crust: Transfer the crumbly dough into the prepared cake tin and press it down till it makes an even layer. Pop it into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned and the top is firm to the touch. Remove and cool.
- Make the Brown Butter Maple Caramel: In a pot placed on medium heat, melt the butter and let it come to a boil. Continue boiling it, stirring occasionally, until the butter turns light brown, smells nutty and little caramelized bits float around. Add in the brown sugar and maple syrup and cook until sugar dissolves completely. While stirring continuously, pour in the heavy cream and mix until well incorporated. Bring the caramel to a slow boil, then take it off the heat.
- Bake: Mix the chopped pecans into the brown butter maple caramel. Pour the sticky pecan-caramel mixture over the cooled crust and smooth it out with the back of a spoon or spatula till it forms an even layer. Bake for 25 minutes. Once done, cool completely.
- Serve: Brush the top with a little bit of maple syrup. Sprinkle sea salt flakes over it and slice into bars. Serve as is, or refrigerate and serve chilled.
If you read my blog regularly, you know that my family serves as guinea pigs to my kitchen experiments. Over years of critiquing my baking, they’ve developed a knack to really differentiate fabulous from good, and my how these Maple Pecan Bars fall in the fabulous category!
Dad and Mom loved them, and my brother says I’ve got another hit under my belt. (I thought they were all hits, quite honestly… *eye roll*). The fiance eagerly stuck his head in the refrigerator every evening in search for any Maple Pecan Bars he may have missed the previous night. (I could write a book about his reactions to everything I bake; it would be a laugh riot.) And the little package of these goodies that made it to his home had his grandpa – a man who only ever enjoys Indian sweets – asking for more!
If you ask my opinion, here’s what I think make these Maple Pecan Bars stellar…
I cannot stress enough how a crust makes a pie, tart, galette or these bars GOOD. It’s the base of a dessert, and like all foundations, it needs to be strong. I don’t just mean in texture, or weight, but also in flavour. This crust is made with unsalted butter, brown sugar and some salt; each that pepper this shortbread crust with moreish notes that create the warmth we all yearn for during the colder months. Also the crunch and crackle is on point!
The Brown Butter Maple Caramel
There’s little in this world that tastes better than homemade caramel. And that little is the addition of maple syrup into a brown butter-based caramel. I’m swooning just writing about how this creamy caramel swishes and swirls in your mouth, luxuriously coating your palate with its richness. It’s a real winner, and I recommend making a big batch and pouring it over everything – ice cream, brownies, into your morning granola/oats bowl.
These burnt amber hued nuts are definitely what propel these Maple Pecan Bars over the threshold of good into fabulous territory. The crunch they offer, that sweetness with just the slightest bitter aftertaste and their likeness to my favourite nuts of them all – walnuts, wow me every time. Coating them with the delish brown butter maple caramel makes them glossy and brings out their own unique flavour. And in a way that is almost inexplicable in words, it rounds this dessert up… completes it even.
I don’t know about you, but all of this seems reason enough to make these Maple Pecan Bars this weekend, yeah? The cool part is, they don’t have to strictly be a fall-winter dessert. Store them in the refrigerator and eat them chilled, and you’ve got goodies that work a treat when it’s hot, hot, hot!
These Maple Pecan Bars are easy to make, egg-free and quite simply marvelous. They are vying for your attention from the screen, and may I suggest you give them their time of day. They will rock your world! ❤
Want to Pin This recipe for later? Here you go…
Psst… If you’d like to, you could come check me out on Pinterest! I pin a tonne of fun stuff – chocolate, lots of dessert, easy weeknight recipes; and home decor (I’m obsessed with home office spaces!)😛
Also, for regular updates on what’s happening in The Foodscape kitchen, follow me on Instagram at @thefoodscape! You’ll love all the deliciousness there, I promise! ❤