Maple Pecan Pie Bars

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Well, the big day is almost here! Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I've been running around like crazy trying to get things ready. Tonight after work I'm coming home and making croissants, apple pie and mini chocolate raspberry cheesecakes (per Stephen's request). So much to do, so little time. Isn't that how it always is? I decided to start my baking early this year, mainly because of work and other obligations, but also because I don't want to wake up at 6am tomorrow just to spend the rest of the day in a hot kitchen. I love to bake, but I love to sleep even more. With that said, I made these maple pecan pie bars a few days ago. I figured we could snack on them throughout the week and then really savor the pie and cheesecake come turkey day. This recipe is great because you don't have to worry about making the perfect crust (kind of a big deal if you are like me and hate to flute the edges). I decided to add maple syrup to these to give them a little extra flavor and I think it did the trick! If you're looking for a quick & easy alternative to pie, give these a try, I think you're going to like them!

Maple Pecan Pie Bars
8 tbsp. (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ c. corn syrup
2 eggs
2 tbsp. heavy cream
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
Pinch of salt
2 c. pecans, chopped

For the crust:
2½ c. all-purpose flour
⅓ c. sugar
⅓ c. brown sugar, packed
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13" pan with foil, leaving a 2" overhang on all sides, this will help you remove them from the pan.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, sugars, and salt until fluffy. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the flour and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Press the crust into the prepared pan. Prick a few times with a fork. Place in oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, in a medium size saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Once the butter has melted, add brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, vanilla, maple syrup and salt. Turn heat up to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes (or until the sugar has dissolved and it begins to simmer). Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Once mixture has cooled, add eggs and pecans. Mix until combined.
4. Pour the mixture into the hot crust. Bake for 20-22 minutes (be careful not to over-bake or the sides will get burned). Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes. Transfer to the freezer to chill for an additional 20 minutes. Remove, cut and serve.
Adapted from Epicurious, Pecan Pie Bars | Makes approximately 12-16 bars, depending on how you cut them

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