Pecan pie inspired shortbread bars are made with layers of maple shortbread, dairy free date caramel, and candied cinnamon pecans. Vegan and paleo friendly.
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
- 1 batch of 15 minute maple cinnamon candied pecans
- 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 (now is also a good time to cook the pecans if you didn't make them ahead of time). 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.
- 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 paleo or vegan, instead of making the maple shortbread layer yourself, you can buy gluten free shortbread cookies and top them with the caramel and candied pecans. I recommend either Pamela's shortbread cookies or Schär shortbread cookies. Note that if you use any store bought cookies, 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!