Butter tarts, pecan tarts, anything tarts- they all have a place in ma’ heart. I definitely don’t discriminate. Most importantly; I have a well-known penchant for so-called “Fall Treats”. You see, Fall Treats sort of exist in a league of their own. A-L-S-O, they have pretty distinct ingredients like; apples, pecans, pumpkin, maple, & caramel.
When I first entered “We the North” territory, I was admittedly excited about the onset of Fall. Having grown up in a place where it was either (a) hot or (b) unbearably hot- I was looking forward to cooler climes and changing leaves and all the hype typically associated with Fall foliage, food and feels.
Truth be told- Fall didn’t disappoint. Everything was as pretty and quaint as they make it out to be. That said, my favorite part of Fall didn’t end up being getting to wear knee-high boots (or having a lot less frizz in my hair)- it was hands down the seasonal FOOD. Insert apple cider, apple crisp, pear crisp, butter tarts, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, etc. I was in total foodie heaven.
With this little recipe I try to recreate my favorite Fall flavors without any of the white sugar, brown sugar, white flour, dairy and heavy cream typically found in autumn treats. I made a delicious pie-like crust out of good ol’ almond flour, an egg and vanilla ghee. Ghee is essentially clarified butter; or butter sans any lactose or fat.
And there’s more good news…. Can’t find almond flour or find it too expensive? I hear ya. You can also recreate this crust with gluten-free graham crackers with the exact same results. If you make the crust out of crackers, just remember this will no longer be a paleo (grain-free) dessert. That’s it. 😉
Are you sitting tight? Because this filling is UNREAL: a soft caramel made of medjool dates and warm water and then mixed in with maple drizzled + coconut sugar sprinkled toasted pecans. This dessert has zero white sugar, canola oil, corn syrup, or any of the nasties traditionally found in pecan pie. BUT, it tastes perfectly sweet & decadent thanks to the magic that is sticky, dates processed with warm water and turned into a smooth, awe-inducing paste.
You have so many textures going on: a crunchy, pie-like crust. A gooey date caramel with chunks of crunchy pecans that have been roasted to perfection. Side note: you don’t need to roast the pecans. But, I highly recommend that you do. It elevates this easy dessert and makes it next-level good. If you don’t like pecans, you could easily use walnuts or almonds. I just like pecan pie… Simple as that. And this tastes pretty darn close or I dare say: slightly better.
Try for yourself and let me know! Make a big batch and share it with those you love. Food is meant to be shared.
Maple Pecan Pie Bars
For the crust
- 2 cups of blanched almond flour OR 2 packages of gluten-free graham crackers
- 2-3 tbsp of vanilla ghee OR coconut oil
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 organic egg
- 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
For the filling
- 20 pitted medjool dates (if not moist and sticky, you could soak them in warm water for 10 mins / then drain before using them)
- 3-4 tbsp of water (added gradually as you process the dates)
- a food processor or high speed blender
the idea for date caramel came from one of my food heroes, Minimalist Baker
For the topping
- 2 cups of pecans
- 1-2 tbsp of pure maple syrup
- 1 tbsp of coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp of vanilla ghee OR (grass-fed butter)
- Preheat your oven to 350F & line a square baking pan with parchment paper
- Place your flour or gluten-free graham crackers in the food processor and pulse in with the pinch of sea salt. If you opt for graham crackers, pulse until pulverized
- Add the egg, the vanilla ghee (or coconut oil) and the pure vanilla extract. Pulse until it clumps/binds together into a ball.
- Press dough onto a medium-sized rectangular or square baking pan
- Bake for about 10 minutes. Bring it out and allow it to cool and harden.
- While the crust bakes, I like to make my date caramel. Simply throw in the dates into your food processor and process into a smooth paste. The trick is to very gradually add warm water. Start with 2 tbsp & continue to process. If needed, add 1 more. And if not smooth enough to spread onto bread, add 1 more tbsp. It should look like a Nutella-like paste.
- Now onto the pecan topping. I wait until I bring out the pie crust to put them in. In the meantime, use a bowl to melt the coconut sugar and vanilla ghee together. Stir in and coat the pecans. Add the drizzle of maple.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and spread the pecans across. Don’t stack them to ensure even baking. Place them inside the oven, still on at 350F. Bake for 10 mins. Keep an eye on them, they burn fast!
- Layer the date caramel on top of the pie crust. (I mix in some pecans into the filling, too). Then top with the maple toasted pecans. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 2-4 hours to allow everything to set. ALWAYS keep it inside the fridge and only bring them right before you’re about to slice them.
- ENJOY! xx
By: Aleyda | The Dish On Healthy