Pecan Shortbread Bars [Chocolate and Maple Syrup]

November 22, 2022

Pecan Shortbread Bars [Chocolate and Maple Syrup]

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These Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars are perfectly sweet and salty, which is essential in any good dessert! They’re like pecan pie but in bar form, making them more easily transportable and perfect for Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Christmas cookie exchange, etc.

The pecan shortbread bars are made without corn syrup, and instead sweetened with maple syrup, which adds tasty hints of caramel and vanilla. 100% cocoa powder adds a rich, chocolatey component. The shortbread bar crust is buttery and slightly sweetened and consists of only a handful of ingredients.

They couldn’t be easier to prepare!

You may also like: Pumpkin Bars with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

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Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars

The combination of flavors and textures you get when you first bite into these pecan shortbread bars is truly magical. Picture this: if a slice of pecan pie and a fudgy brownie had a baby, this would be it!

Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars are a great make-ahead dessert to save some time on busy cooking days like Thanksgiving and Christmas. The bars need time to cool and set anyway, so why not check them off your list the night before?

Three pecan shortbread bars, one with a single small bite missing, on a white plate.

Pecans pair beautifully with chocolate and maple syrup. The rich, nutty flavor of pecans complements the sweetness of chocolate and the earthiness of maple syrup. Incorporating all three flavors into desserts like pecan shortbread bars with maple syrup, or maple pecan chocolate truffles!

The Ingredients

To make the Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Butter
  • 100% Cocoa Powder
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Pecans

So much flavor with so few ingredients…you may even have a lot of them in your pantry already!

Pecan shortbread bar ingredients in separate bowls on a white surface.

Pecan Shortbread Bars Ingredients: Are they Healthy?

Although we don’t always associate desserts with health, these Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars (the recipe uses no corn syrup) do have some health benefits thanks to natural ingredients such as maple syrup, pecans, and cocoa powder!

I’m not saying you should eat the entire cake pan full (also not saying you shouldn’t), but you may be able to sleep a bit better at night knowing the decadent dessert you just devoured benefited not only your belly but your body too.

Maple Syrup Benefits

Typically, pecan pie is made using corn syrup. These pecan shortbread bars are made without corn syrup, and instead, contain naturally sweet, better for you, pure maple syrup.

There are few ingredients found in nature that are as sweet as pure maple syrup. Pure maple syrup contains minerals such as zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Below you’ll find more health benefits, and if you’re interested, Maine Maple Producers goes into more detail about each benefit in their article: Nutrition & The 9 Health Benefits of Maple Syrup.

1. Contains Numerous Antioxidants

2. Gets a Lower Score on the Glycemic Index

3. Fights Inflammatory Diseases

4. May Help Protect Against Cancer

5. Helps Protect Skin Health

6. Alternative to Sugar for Improved Digestion

7. Supplies Important Vitamins and Minerals

8. Healthier Alternative to Artificial Sweeteners

9. May Enhance Antibiotic Effects

Pecans Nutrition

According to the Healthline article, Are Pecans Good for You?, pecans have been associated with numerous health benefits. Those potential benefits are:

1. Improves heart health.

2. Stabilizes blood sugar.

3. Promotes brain function.

Pecans are also a good source of fiber, along with copper, thiamine, and zinc. Keep in mind, pecans are high in calories!

Cocoa Powder Benefits

Unsweetened cocoa powder adds deep, rich chocolate flavor to desserts, such as these Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars.

Not only delicious, but cocoa powder is also rich in theobromine, which helps to reduce inflammation and can protect you from diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

For more extensive information, check out Healthline’s article: 11 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Cocoa Powder.

How to Make Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars

Pecan shortbread bars cut into squares - also pictured is a bag of Ghirardelli 100% cocoa powder.

Crust for Pecan Shortbread Bars

Four photos of crust/dough for pecan shortbread bars being prepared.
  1. Preheat the oven to three-hundred degrees Fahrenheit (one-hundred seventy-seven degrees Celsius).
  2. Spray the 9×9 inch square cake pan with avocado oil spray then place a fitted piece of parchment paper in the pan (ensuring the sides are sticking out so you can easily lift the bars).
  3. With your hands, mix the flour, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter with your pastry cutter (see: Pastry Cutter Substitutes if you don’t have one).
  4. Transfer the flour mixture to the prepared pan and continue to firmly press the dough into an even layer, and about half an inch up the sides of the cake pan. Make sure there is no loose flour.
  5. Par-bake the shortbread pie crust in the preheated oven for twelve minutes.
Crust/dough of chocolate maple pecan shortbread bars being pressed into a cake pan.

Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars Filling

Using a KitchenAid or a hand mixer, lightly beat the eggs with maple syrup, half a cup brown sugar, cocoa powder, melted butter, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Stir in the pecans. It couldn’t get any easier than that!

Dump the filling over the warm shortbread crust. Bake for another twenty-five minutes. Let the Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars cool completely in the cake pan over a cooling rack before cutting.

I like to sprinkle a little bit of flaky salt on top for the perfect salty and sweet bite, and because it looks pretty (totally optional). Cut into sixteen bars and enjoy every single bite!

When baking pecan bars, they’re typically done when the edges are golden brown, and the center is set but still slightly soft. You can test by gently shaking the pan – if the center jiggles slightly but the edges are firm, they’re done. It’s also a good idea to insert a toothpick into the center; if it comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs, they’re ready.

I’d love to hear from you! About your experience with this dish, any alterations you may have made and loved (or didn’t love), or just life and cooking in general. Please leave a question, comment, and/or review below, or get in touch via email.

Follow me on social media to stay connected and keep up with the fun! I sometimes post different recipes my husband and I make that I don’t share here on the blog, other cooking, and lifestyle tips, and more.

I hope you love these pecan shortbread bars!! – Jenna G.

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    🖤 Life update:

    It is currently November 21, 2022. Thanksgiving is three days away and I haven’t planned a single thing for dinner, which is so not like me. Thanksgiving is going to be a bit different for me this year. *Update 8/12/23 – my husband was deployed but is back now! See the homecoming here.

    Usually, my husband Jon and I always cook together, but this year he’ll be working, unfortunately. It’s also his birthday on Thanksgiving which makes it even more upsetting!

    Last year we didn’t cook together because we were still in a hotel on a military base (no kitchen), just weeks away from moving into our new home in Washington. Instead, me, Jon, and Bentley spontaneously booked a hotel room at a casino for the night. It was not your typical Thanksgiving, but we went with it and ended up having so much fun. That just comes naturally when us three are together, though. 🖤 Even better, we discovered the restaurant in the casino was offering a full on five-course Thanksgiving dinner, which was so delicious and memorable!

    The good part of being a military spouse is (in my experience), even though at times I won’t have my husband, and my family is across the country in New York, there’s always people there for me.

    Whether it’s our neighbors (and friends) who are retired from the Army, or my husband’s coworkers and their family; everyone sticks together and looks out for one another. They just get it!

    Knowing that Jon isn’t going to be around to cook with me this Thanksgiving, my friend offered to cook for me. Another couple asked me to go spend time with their friends and family up North. I treasure these military relationships so much. These people really care!

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    Overhead shot of pecan shortbread bars on a piece of parchment paper and pecans on the side.

    Pecan Shortbread Bars [Chocolate and Maple Syrup]


    5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

    5 from 20 reviews

    • Author: Jenna
    • Total Time: 2 hours 52 minutes
    • Yield: 16 servings 1x
    • Diet: Vegetarian

    Description

    These Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars are essentially pecan pie in bar form. So delicious, and naturally sweetened with maple syrup (no corn syrup needed).


    Ingredients

    Units Scale

    CRUST FOR PECAN SHORTBREAD BARS:

    CHOCOLATE MAPLE PECAN FILLING:

    OPTIONAL FOR TOPPING:


    Instructions

    1. PREPARE AND PAR-BAKE THE CRUST. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Spray the 9×9 inch square cake pan with avocado oil spray then place a fitted piece of parchment paper in the pan (ensuring the sides are sticking out so you can easily lift the bars). With your hands, mix the flour, two tablespoons of brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter with your pastry cutter. Transfer the flour mixture to the prepared pan and continue to firmly press the dough into an even layer, and about half an inch up the sides of the cake pan. Make sure there is no loose flour. *See more photos in the post above. Par-bake the shortbread pie crust in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.
    2. MAKE THE CHOCOLATE MAPLE PECAN SHORTBREAD BARS FILLING. In the meantime, using a KitchenAid or a hand mixer, lightly beat the eggs with maple syrup, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cocoa powder, melted butter, vanilla extract, and sea salt. Stir in the pecans.
    3. FINISH PREPARING THE CHOCOLATE MAPLE PECAN SHORTBREAD BARS. Dump the filling over the warm shortbread crust. Bake for another 25 minutes. Let the bars cool completely in the cake pan over a cooling rack before cutting.
    4. SERVE AND ENJOY! I like to sprinkle a little bit of flaky salt on top for the perfect salty and sweet bite, and because it looks pretty (totally optional). Cut into 16 bars and enjoy!!!

    Notes

    • Chocolate Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars are a great make-ahead dessert to save some time on busy cooking days like Thanksgiving and Christmas!
    • See article: The Ultimate Guide to Freezing Cookies and Bars.
    • The total time includes two hours of cooling time. You can also cool them overnight by storing the pecan shortbread bars (still in the cake pan to avoid damaging them before they’re cooled) in the cake pan in an airtight container. The bars take less than an hour to prep and bake!
    • You don’t need to use a KitchenAid for this recipe, but I always do!
    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cooling Time: 2 hours
    • Cook Time: 37 minutes
    • Category: Snacks & Desserts
    • Method: Oven
    • Cuisine: American
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