Gooey pecan pie bars
Updated: Nov 20, 2022
I have a few desserts that I always have stocked in my freezer, and one of those are my gooey vanilla wafer bars. When I thought about making pecan pie bars for the fall season, I knew that the filling of my gooey bars, paired with a shortbread base, would be the perfect starting point.
This recipe doesn’t require any special equipment,
which makes it easy to pull together. These bars are filled with butter and have the perfect balance of sweet and a pinch of salt. First, you’ll make and partially bake your shortbread base. Next, you’ll make your gooey bar filling, fold in chopped pecans, and bake! Once your bars are cooled, they’ll spend some time in the fridge and then I recommend that they spend some time in the freezer.
Similar to my gooey vanilla wafer bars, the most daunting part about this recipe is separating the yolks from the egg whites, as this recipe only uses egg yolks. I promise if you haven’t tried it before, you’ll get the hang of it once you give it a try. Though there are a lot of similarities, there are also a few small changes from my gooey bars, such as the shortbread crust and added pecans, but the main difference is the amount of light brown sugar. In the gooey bars, there is more granulated sugar, and in this recipe you’ll find a higher amount of light brown sugar that pairs really nicely with the pecans.
These bars are a great bake ahead treat since they can store right in the fridge or freezer. They also are a great way to enjoy one of the holiday pie flavors we love without all of the hassle. There is an incredibly gooey and dense texture to these bars without being too heavy. I like to slice mine into 16 squares, but I’ll also share carb information for nine larger squares.
10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature 141g
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 38g
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 150g
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar 24g
3/4 cup light brown sugar 144g
1/4 cup cornstarch 32g
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (half cup, 8 tablespoons) melted unsalted butter 113g
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans measured whole, then chopped 90g
Total time: 5 hours
Prep time: About 20 minutes
Bake time: Under an hour total
Chill and freeze time: 3-4 hours
Quantity: 16 (or 9) square bars
Prep your shortbread base. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If your butter isn't already at room temperature, you can place it in the microwave for about 5-10 seconds to soften it.
In a large bowl, combine your butter and powdered sugar using a large spoon or spatula. Continue to mix until there are no streaks of butter. Add in your flour and salt, and mix together until a dough is formed. Note: you can use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, but a bowl and spoon will do the trick!
Line an 8x8 square pan (a 9x9 pan would as well) with parchment paper. I usually use two pieces so that all sides are covered, but you can lightly grease the sides of your pan as well. Flatten your dough down into your covered pan. If your dough feels too soft or warm, chill your dough in the pan for up to an hour. When you're ready, bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes. It should be lightly golden around the edges.
Note that you’ll need your oven at 350 degrees to bake your filling.
Make and bake your filling. Meanwhile, it's time to make your filling. In a large bowl, pour in your sugar, light brown sugar, corn starch, and salt. Use a whisk or large fork to fully combine your dry ingredients.
In a separate small bowl, melt your butter and then pour into your dry ingredients. Use a spatula or large spoon to fully combine.
Now separate out your egg yolks and place them into a small bowl or cup. To do this, I usually have one small container to save my egg whites (you don't need them for this recipe but you can always use them another time!) and one small bowl to hold my yolks. Crack one egg at a time, hold one hand over the egg white container, transfer to that hand, and pass the egg yolk back and forth between your hands until all of the white is in the container, and then place your egg yolk into your other small bowl. Once you have all four yolks, add one at a time to your dry ingredients and butter mixture. Fully incorporate using your spatula or small spoon, and only add the next yolk once the last has been fully incorporated.
Pour your heavy cream and vanilla extract into your mixture, and carefully fold together. You'll want to move slowly as to not stir air into the mixture. Next, chop your pecans and add them into your mixture. Fold together until they are evenly dispersed.
Your oven should be set to 350 degrees already but if it's not, turn your oven on. Pour your filling into your partially baked shortbread base, and smooth out slightly using your spatula or spoon as needed.
Place your pan into the oven for about 25 minutes until a light golden brown crust has formed around the outer edges with a lighter golden color in the center. At this point, remove your pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Place your pan back into the oven and cook for another 10-12 minutes until your bars have set (it should still wiggle a little if you shake it, but only in the center).
Remove your pan and allow it to cool slightly at room temperature for about an hour. Take a spatula, and press it slowly around the edges of your bars just to loosen the sides for later. Then, place your bars into the fridge for at least an hour. You can keep your bars in the fridge for a minimum of three hours, or after an hour of chill time in the fridge, transfer to the freezer for at least another hour.
Slice and store. Once your bars have fully chilled and set, it's time to slice them. Be patient with loosening your bars from the pan. Use a spatula again around the edges, and if you're able to, you can use the parchment paper to pull the bars out of the pan, or you can turn the pan over and release the bars onto a flat surface. Use a sharp knife to slice your bars into 16 squares. You can also slice them into 9 larger squares. Enjoy now, store your bars in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge, or place into the freezer and enjoy any time.
Carb and serving info:
Carbs for full recipe: 374
Carbs per serving (1 of 16): 23
Carbs per serving (1 of 9): 42
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.