Pecan pie is a delicious dessert that I find is best when you have a crowd to share it with. This is because pecan pie is a rich dessert and one pie can usually be divided up to serve quite a few people! If I’m not entertaining, I will sometimes skip a pecan pie in favor of other pecan desserts, simply because I know that I won’t be able to get through the whole thing in a short time-frame. Whether you’re baking something just for two or serving only a small group, there are times when a small batch recipe can come in handy. These Small Batch Pecan Pie Bars capture all the flavor of a classic pecan pie in a recipe that is perfect for a small group!
The pie bars are made in two stages: first the crust, and then the filling. Unlike a traditional pie recipe, the filling is added to the crust when it is still hot from the oven, which really streamlines the baking process. The crust is a shortbread crust that is made in the food processor and pressed into the pan. It is crisp, buttery and sturdy enough to hold up to the fairly moist pecan pie filling without getting soggy.
For the filling, I used maple syrup instead of corn syrup, which is often used in pecan pie fillings. If you are a big fan of tradition, you can substitute corn syrup for the maple syrup in this recipe. The maple syrup has a richer and more complex flavor than corn syrup, making for an even tastier finished dessert. Regardless of whether you use maple syrup or corn syrup, use roasted and salted pecans in the filling for an extra bit of contrast between the nuts and the syrup surrounding them.
The bars are baked in a loaf pan. I highly recommend lining your loaf pan with parchment paper and greasing it well because pecan pie filling tends to stick to the sides of the pan after baking. Using a parchment liner also means that you’ll be able to lift the bars right out for neat and easy slicing when you’re ready to serve. If you happen to have a 9×5-inch tart pan, that could also be used. Use a sharp knife to cut neatly through the pecans and serve then bars once they have been chilled.
Small Batch Pecan Pie Bars
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter, cold
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup very coarsely chopped toasted and salted pecans
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×5-inch baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.
Prepare the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until mixture is very sandy. This can also be done using your fingertips to blend in the butter, as well.
Pour crust mixture into prepared loaf and and press firmly into an even layer at the base of the pan.
Bake crust for 15-18 minutes, until very lightly browned around the edges.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients except for the pecans (this can also be done in the food processor) until smooth.
When the crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top of the hot crust. Pour filling into crust, covering the pecans, and return to the oven.
Bake bars for about 20-22 minutes, or until filling is set and does not jiggle when the pan is gently shaken.
Allow bars to cool completely, then refrigerate until cold. Use the parchment lining to lift the bars out of the pan before slicing.
Cut crosswise into 8 bars.
Makes 8 bars.