My favorite part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal is dessert. Other than cranberry sauce and candied yams, none of the other foods interest me too much. My favorite savory dish is probably stuffing, but even then, I like it with sweet additions like chopped apples and dried cranberries. Turkey? Eh. Mashed potatoes? Boring. But pumpkin, apple, pecan, cranberry, and lemon meringue pies? YUM!
The only thing I don’t like about pies is making the crust. I don’t own a rolling pin, so I use a cylindrical water glass instead (ghetto, I know). This makes rolling out pie crusts rather difficult. Somehow, my pie crusts usually end up being pretty satisfactory in taste and texture – buttery and flaky. The problem is that they are just so darn UGLY. I can’t crimp a pretty pie crust to save my life.
My inability to make attractive pie crusts bothers me to no end, and I’d rather just not make pies, so I don’t have to look at my hideous crusts. That’s why I love pie bars and squares. No rolling pin required, and no edges to crimp! The ingredients for the crust of these maple-pecan pie squares are simply combined in the food processor and pressed into a foil-lined baking pan. It literally takes 2 minutes. No chilling, waiting, rolling, or crimping. It’s my kind of crust :)
I usually try to refrain from making desserts loaded with obscene amounts of butter and cream because eating them makes me feel like my arteries are getting more clogged by the second. But these little squares of buttery, maple-y goodness are SO worth it. Yeah, your waistline might suffer a tiny bit (or a lot, if you have portion control issues like me), but who cares? These maple-pecan pie squares are way too good to pass up.
Maple-Pecan Pie Squares
Source: adapted from Ezra Pound Cake, originally from Williams-Sonoma
For the crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
For the filling:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9 inch baking pan with foil, letting the foil extend up the sides and over the edges; grease foil.
2. To make the crust, place flour, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press crumbs into bottom of prepared pan, and bake in preheated oven until edges of crust are lightly browned, about about 15 minutes
3. To make the filling, combine butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately stir in heavy cream. Stir in chopped pecans. Pour hot filling over partially baked crust, and spread mixture to edges with a spoon.
4. Bake in preheated oven until filling is set when pan is given a gentle shake, about 22-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Using ends of foil liner, lift maple-pecan squares from pan. Gently peel foil away from edges, and cut into small squares using a sharp knife. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.