Pecan Pie Shortbread Bars

These pecan pie shortbread bars would be a great dessert around Thanksgiving or Christmas. They’re out of the ordinary but still have a traditional fall flavor everyone will recognize. These bars have a soft maple shortbread layer covered in sticky date caramel and are topped with candied cinnamon pecans made from just three ingredients. They're also completely vegan so those with egg and dairy allergies (and those following a vegan diet, of course) can enjoy them too! Also, be sure to check out the notes section of this recipe. Since things are always so crazy around the holidays, I’ve included an optional shortcut that could save you a lot of time.
30 minutes
45 minutes
Show nutritional information
This is our estimate based on online research.
Fat:20 g
Carbohydrates:21 g
Protein:2 g
Calculated per serving.

Serves: 9

Serves: 9decrease servingsincrease servings



Note, these instructions are written assuming the standard serving size, since you have modified the number of servings, these steps may need to be modified for best results
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Remove pits from dates. Place dates in a bowl of hot water and allow to soften for about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, start on the shortbread layer. Whisk together the coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt.
  4. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to combine the melted coconut oil, 1/3 C maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients while mixing. The mixture will become somewhat dry and clump up. This is expected.
  5. Grease an 8X8 glass baking dish with a little coconut oil then firmly and evenly press the shortbread mixture into the dish. Use a toothpick to prick a few holes to allow air to escape. Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool.
  6. While the shortbread is baking/cooling, begin working with your date caramel again. Discard the water and place dates and 1/8 tsp salt in a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding coconut milk a tablespoon at a time. You\'ll want the dates to become smooth but not runny. You may not end up using all the coconut milk. Set aside.
  7. In a skillet over medium-low heat, warm the pecans until the are slightly toasted and become fragrant, about 10 minutes. This does make a difference in the resulting flavor and texture but feel free to skip warming the pecans if you're impatient.
  8. While the pecans are warming, whisk together the ¼ C maple syrup and cinnamon. Once the pecans are fragrant, stir this in and allow to cook down, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Allow this to cook down until the pecans start to stick together and the maple syrup begins to resemble granulated sugar. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Remove from heat use a spatula to spread out in a single layer on a heat-safe plate to allow them to cool without sticking together. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
  9. To assemble the bars, use a spatula to spread the caramel over the shortbread layer then sprinkle the pecans on top of that. Cut into slices to serve.


If you want to save some time and aren't worried about this being dairy free or strict paleo, instead of making the maple shortbread layer yourself, you can buy gluten free shortbread cookies (I recommend Pamela's shortbread cookies -they're linked in my original blog post.) and top them with the caramel and candied pecans. Note that if you use Pamela's (or any brand, really) they may contain allergens or traces of those allergens so read the ingredients and allergen statement carefully and always contact the manufacturer directly if you are unsure of anything. This shortcut allows you to skip steps 3-5 and should save about 25 minutes.

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