Bailey's Pecan Pie Squares With a Shortbread Base

RachelBakesatHome
by RachelBakesatHome
40 bars
1 hr 15 min

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Looking for a festive holiday treat? I’ve got you covered with these boozy pecan pie squares! The squares have all of the rich, buttery flavors of pecan pie with a lot less work. Bring a platter to your holiday office party or add to the center of your family’s dessert table. People will not be able to resist coming back for seconds and thirds!

Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan Pie and Holidays

The holidays are for pie. Don’t bother disagreeing with me, it’s just FACT! Living in South Carolina, pecan pie is often on more Thanksgiving tables than pumpkin pie. Most likely, this is because pecan pie originated in the Southern half of the United States. Unfortunately, I often find pecan pie to be way too sweet and heavy. The use of light or dark corn syrup is usually the sweetness culprit. While working on this recipe, my goal was to replace the corn syrup with natural honey and maple syrup whilst maintaining the sticky, gooey goodness pecan pie is known for – It was a success!


Highlighted Ingredients

Bailey’s Irish Cream: Bailey’s Irish Cream is a liqueur flavored with cream, cocoa, and Irish whiskey. The taste is sweet and milky with notes of vanilla and chocolate. It is a bit more smooth than straight whiskey or bourbon. It goes perfectly in this recipe with the cocoa shortbread and coffee added to the pecan mixture. Please note that these squares are boozy but the alcohol content is greatly GREATLY reduced by baking.

Pecans: Pecans are the star of the show! The nut has a crispy and buttery texture and has health benefits such as fiber, magnesium, and potassium. Yes, pecans have fat but it’s the good fat!


Baking the Pecan Pie Shortbread Squares

Materials Needed:

  1. 9×13 baking dish lined with parchment paper
  2. Stand mixer with paddle attachment or large mixing bowl and hand mixer
  3. Rubber spatula
  4. Medium mixing bowl
  5. Whisk
  6. Measuring cups
  7. Measuring spoons
  8. Wire cooling rack

Ingredients:

For Shortbread:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter – slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour – spooned and leveled
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

For Pecan Pie Topping:

  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour – spooned and leveled
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup golden honey
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 6 oz chopped pecans
  • 4 to 6 oz whole pecans

Process:

Yield: 40 bars (portions are small)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Leave a bit of an overhang so bars can be lifted out for slicing.

In bowl of stand mixer or in large mixing bowl for hand mixer, add flour, butter, cocoa powder, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, ginger, and sea salt. Mix on low to medium low until butter broken down to small chunks and a course mixture remains. Be careful not to over mix. The butter chunks are essential for the shortbread so that it doesn’t get too dry. Press mixture evenly into bottom of lined baking dish. Use rubber spatula to firmly pack down the mixture. Make sure it is packed tightly and evenly to form a strong base.

Dry course mixture
Packed shortbread base

Bake the shortbread for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you prepare the pecan pie mixture.

Baked shortbread base

Add espresso powder to 1 tbsp hot water and stir to combine. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup flour, packed brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, sea salt, eggs, vanilla, espresso mixture, and Bailey’s. Whisk until well mixed and eggs are fully incorporated. Add chopped pecans at this point and stir only to blend. Pour mixture onto prepared shortbread base and use spatula to make sure mixture evenly covers the base. Top with whole pecans

Pecan Pie Mixture
Pecan Pie prior to baking

Bake for 30-35 minutes (start with 30) until a toothpick inserted on the edges comes out with minimal moist crumbs. The middle will still look gooey and that is okay! Cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack. For cleaner slicing, refrigerate the bars after they have mostly cooled for at least an hour prior to slicing. This will set the bars a bit more to make them more solid. Lift out of the pan with the overhanging parchment paper and slice. I sliced into 40 small bars but you can start with 20 bars and divide more from there as needed. Store extras in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Pecan Pie Bars
Pecan Pie Bars
Bailey's Pecan Pie Squares With a Shortbread Base
Recipe details
  • 40  bars
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 55 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 15 min
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Ingredients
For Shortbread:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter – slightly softened
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour – spooned and leveled
  • 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
For Pecan Topping:
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour – spooned and leveled
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup golden honey
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 6 oz chopped pecans
  • 4 to 6 oz whole pecans
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper. Leave a bit of an overhang so bars can be lifted out for slicing.
In bowl of stand mixer or in large mixing bowl for hand mixer, add flour, butter, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, ginger, and sea salt. Mix on low to medium low until butter broken down to small chunks and a course mixture remains. Be careful not to over mix. The butter chunks are essential for the shortbread so that it isn’t too dry. Press mixture evenly into bottom of lined baking dish. Use rubber spatula to firmly pack down the mixture. Make sure it is packed tightly and evenly to form a strong base.
Bake the shortbread for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you prepare the pecan pie mixture. Leave oven at 350F
For the Topping
Dissolve espresso in 1 tbsp hot water
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup flour, packed brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, sea salt, eggs, vanilla, espresso mixture, and Bailey’s. Whisk until well mixed and eggs are fully incorporated. Add chopped pecans at this point and stir only to blend. Pour mixture onto prepared shortbread base and use spatula to make sure mixture evenly covers the base. Top with whole pecans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted on the edges comes out with minimal moist crumbs. The middle will still look gooey and that is okay! Cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack. For cleaner slicing, refrigerate the bars after they have mostly cooled for at least an hour prior to slicing. This will set the bars a bit more to make them more solid. Lift out of the pan with the overhanging parchment paper and slice. I sliced into 40 small bars but you can start with 20 bars and divide more from there as needed. Store extras in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Tips
  • Adjust amount of pecans to taste. I wanted the top completely covered but you can roughly chop or use only whole pecans and reduce or increase the number.
  • Please note that the alcohol content greatly reduces during the baking process but doesn’t completely bake off. You are more than welcome to eliminate the Bailey’s from the recipe if preferred and increase the maple syrup.
  • It is important to do the first bake of the shortbread before adding the toppings so that the toppings do not soak through the base.
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