These maple pecan bars without corn syrup nearly broke me when I was developing the recipe. It went through several iterations until I was able to get the perfect, crisp shortbread crust coupled with a chewy, pecan topping reminiscent of pecan pie.
For too many tries, I was getting a gooey topping and a soggy crust that was, honestly, terrible until I came to this recipe. And this one is, honestly, very good.
I knew that I wanted toasted pecan flavour to be prominent throughout the bars, so I included some ground pecans in the shortbread crust along with the pecan halves obviously included in the topping. And, of course, I swapped maple syrup for the commonly used corn syrup in the filling – the maple flavour complements the pecans brilliantly.
So if you’re looking for a great, autumnal dessert that’s easy to eat and fun to make, then these pecan pie bars are perfect for you! They’re relatively simple to make and the results are delicious.
How to Make Pecan Bars Without Any Corn Syrup
Before you get to making any element of these, make sure to toast your pecans. Because we use pecans in both the filling and the crust, toast everything together.
You can either toast them in the oven or on the stovetop, it’s up to you. Just make sure that you don’t burn them!
Then it’s time to make your crust. Separate a handful of pecans and grind them fine. You can do this by bashing them in a bag with a rolling pin, or you can do it in a food processor.
If you’d like to save time, the entire crust can be made in a food processor, however, it’s simple and easy to make it by hand.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ground pecans, some flour, sugar salt and baking powder. Then, add in some cold, unsalted butter that’s been cut into cubes.
Use your fingertips to smash the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is in very small pieces and there aren’t any large pieces of butter visible.
Then, it’s time to add in an egg yolk, which does a great job and binding the crust together. Use a fork to mix the egg yolk into the crust until it’s well combined.
Now, scatter the crust over a parchment-lined baking dish, using your fingers to press in evenly into the bottom of the pan.
Move the crust to the freezer for about ten minutes before baking it in a 180°C (350°F) oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and crisp. Allow your crust to cool for at least an hour before making the filling. You can also make the crust a day in advance.
Next, onto the filling! After a few attempts, I’ve determined that the best way to ensure that you get the right texture for the filling that doesn’t also turn the crust soggy is to cook the filling for a few minutes.
So, in a small saucepan, combine some maple syrup, light brown sugar and unsalted butter. Set the pan over medium heat and, stirring frequently, gently melt the butter and bring the mixture to a boil.
Allow the mixture to boil for three minutes (stir constantly during this time!), before taking this off the heat.
Off the heat, stir in a bit of heavy cream, some vanilla extract and a bit of salt. The fat content in the cream is what ensures the topping retains a chewy texture. At this point, you basically have a toffee sauce – similar to what is used to top my sticky toffee pudding!
Then, stir in the rest of your toasted pecan halves – ensure everything is well-combined in the sticky sugar and maple mixture!
Once the pecans are incorporated, spread the topping over the cooled crust, ensuring everything is evenly distributed and the filling is spread consistently over the crust.
Now, all you have to do is bake the bars! Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes. You want the filling to be golden and bubbling throughout. It will look relatively liquid but don’t be alarmed – it will set completely as it cools.
Make sure to allow the bars to cool completely before removing them from the pan and cutting them into 16 bars.
Use the parchment overhand to easily lift the bars in one slab from the pan. Then, all you need to do is serve and enjoy! Wrapped tight, the bars will keep for a few days at room temperature.
- 30g (1/4 cup) unsalted pecan halves, ground (see note 1)
- 90g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 50g (1/4 cup) white sugar
- 3g (1/2 teaspoon) salt (see note 2)
- 2g (1/4 teaspoon) baking powder
- 100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- 120ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup
- 100g (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
- 50g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 30ml (2 tablespoons) heavy cream
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
- 3g (1 teaspoon) salt (see note 2)
- 170g (1 1/4 cup) unsalted pecan halves, toasted and chopped coarse (see note 1)
- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease a 20cmx20cm (8inx8in) baking dish (preferably metal). Line with parchment paper so that there is a couple of centimetres of overhang on each side - this will act as a sling for easy removal.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ground pecans, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the butter and toss lightly with your fingertips to coat in butter.
- Using your fingertips, smash the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is mealy and no large visible pieces of butter remain. Using a fork, add the egg yolk and mix until it's thoroughly combined.
- Scatter the dough evenly across the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Using your hands, press it evenly and firmly across the bottom of the dish. Transfer the dish to the freezer and allow to chill for 10 minutes.
- Transfer your crust to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until it is lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (at least 1 hour) before making the filling.
- In a small saucepan, add the maple syrup, brown sugar and butter. Set over medium heat and, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to boil for 3 minutes before removing from the heat
- Off the heat, stir in the cream, vanilla and salt. Add in the pecan pieces and stir until well combined.
- Pour the mixture over cooled crust, spreading out ensure it is evenly distributed. Transfer back to the 180°C (350°F) oven and bake for 20-25 minutes - until the mixture is browning and bubbling.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting into 16 pieces and serving, at least 2 hours.
1. Toast the pecans for both the crust and the filling together (a total of 150g). Then chop or grind them as needed. The pecans can be ground in a food processor or by chopping them very fine, transferring to a bag and bashing with a rolling pin until they resemble the consistency of course, wet sand.
2. Different types and brands of salt can have different volumetric measurements. I highly recommend weighing out the salt to get consistent results.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 163mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 16gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
These maple pecan bars without corn syrup are super delicious and make for the perfect sweet treat for Thanksgiving or throughout the autumn season.
Are you looking for a great pecan bar recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!