These pecan pie shortbread bars would be a great dessert for 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. These are actually pretty good with a little sprinkle of coarse sea salt on top. I didn’t include that in the recipe but some of you may like it, especially if you like salted caramel.
Do you ever bake with coconut flour? I don’t like to use it very often but it was exactly the texture needed here! There’s so much fiber in coconut flour that if you aren’t used to eating it, it can be hard to eat a large amount. I have an entire batch of these to myself but every time I go to devour them, I don’t do much damage because I get full so quickly! It’s like they have built-in portion control ;) You may actually get more than nine servings out of this recipe.
I’ve posted a lot of egg-free recipes here and even desserts but I’ve never done any (successful) egg-free baking before. I had no idea what I was doing while making this and had to redo a few things but somehow it turned out both delicious and egg-free! I always keep my recipes free from ingredients that I personally can’t eat but lately I’ve been trying to take into account other people’s allergies, sensitivities, and special diets. I should have been doing that from the start but let’s be honest, hardly anyone was reading this blog up until about a year ago. I tend to get a lot of questions about ingredient substitutions for allergies and get a lot of people looking for low carb, AIP, Whole 30, vegetarian, and vegan recipes.
I’ve also been seeing what you guys are pinning on Pinterest. So many of these recipes are being saved to boards titled things like “Food I can actually eat”, “For Dad’s diet”, “Candida diet”, “Get healthy”, “Gluten-free and vegan”, “Diabetic recipes”, etc. It’s really cool to see all the reasons these recipes are being made other than just “I’m hungry”. Right now, I’m going through all my recipes and updating the tags on them. I’m still learning about how to cook with and without certain ingredients as well as what is “allowed” on certain diets but I can only get better at it. If any of you have tips for myself or other readers, you are always welcome to comment below or use my contact form located in the menu above!
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.
Maple shortbread layer *see notes for shortcut*
- 1 C coconut flour
- 1/4 C tapioca starch
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 C coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 C maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 24 dates
- 1 1/2 C hot water (or just enough to cover dates)
- 1/4 C coconut milk
- 1/8 tsp salt
Candied pecan layer:
- 1 1/2 C pecan halves or pieces
- 1/4 C pure maple syrup
- 3/4 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Remove pits from dates. Place dates in a bowl of hot water and allow to soften for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, start on the shortbread layer. Whisk together the coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, and 1/8 tsp salt.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a skillet over medium-low heat, warm the pecans until they 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.
- While the pecans are warming, whisk together the 1/4 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 and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- 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. So good!) 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.
Update: I recently made this recipe again but doubled the caramel since I had some dates to use up. I liked it so much better that I decided to change the original recipe. So if you’ve made this before and it seems different, that’s why!