As the weather begins to cool, our minds turn to football, warm blankets, pumpkins, and comforting treats like these gooey maple pecan bars. And because time isn’t always on your side to make a fancy crust and custard from scratch, this recipe uses just the right shortcuts so you can get it in the oven and on your table that much faster.
Using a cake mix for the “crust” creates a soft base for the pecan and maple custard. It will need a few minutes in the oven before you add the additional layer and remember not to follow directions on the box. You need this layer to be more dense and rich than a regular cake if it’s going to hold up. To make this recipe, a mixing bowl with a non-slip base will allow you to stir without spilling and a quality set of baking pans will help the base bake evenly.
Another important boost of flavor comes from using real maple syrup. You can find it in any grocery store and please know it doesn’t come in a bottle shaped like a woman. Avoid anything that says “maple flavored” and look for a glass bottle. Real maple syrup is typically more expensive than the imitation but because it takes such a key role in this recipe, you don’t want to substitute it with anything else. There’s no other sugar in this recipe and the maple syrup takes on both flavor and sweetening purposes. A good quality one gives these bars an almost floral flavor and everyone who tastes them will think you’ve put in a lot more work than you have. Remember to measure your maple syrup in a cup made for liquids so everything turns out just right.
Beyond those tips, this recipe comes together in a flash. When the eggs, syrup, and pecans bake together a naturally soft, sweet custard develops all on its own. Bake it just until it sets—about 30 minutes and allow them to cool completely or go ahead and scarf them down with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. It’s okay if you can’t hold back. These can be made up to two days in advance, refrigerated, and then warmed again slightly in the oven before cutting them into squares.
Gooey Maple Pecan Bars
- 1 box yellow cake mix, 2/3 of a cup set aside
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 3 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, and butter. Using your hands or a spoon spread the mix in the bottom of the 9x13 pan as evenly as possible. Bake until puffed and starting to firm, 15 minutes.
While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a medium bowl mix the remaining 2/3 cup cake mix, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla and pecans. When the crust is ready, pour over the filling and bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Cool slightly and serve warm or chill.
Written by: Rachel Ballard