It’s hard to admit, but I don’t really care for pecan pie.

I know that pecan pie is the quintessential Southern dessert. And it’s true that everything about a pecan pie is wonderful. Or it would be, except that it’s just too much. Even a small slice is too rich, too sweet. Even serving it with a cup of strong coffee or hot black tea doesn’t do enough to cut the sweetness.

Then I discovered pecan pie bars. The balance between the shortbread crust and the filling is amazing. Pecan pie bars are sweet, but not too sweet. But the recipes I found had flavors that didn’t really belong there. Toffee bits, chocolate, things like that.

I decided that if I was going to make the perfect pecan pie bar, I’d have to make my own recipe.

This is it. Everything that’s wonderful about pecan pie, in an easy-to-make bar cookie. Make a pan of my pecan pie bars and invite a friend over for tea.

Pecan Pie Bars

Crust Ingredients

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (two sticks) butter, cold, cut into 16 pieces

Filling Ingredients

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups broken pecan meats
1/4 c. dark Karo syrup

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350. Spray a 13×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper.

Dump the flour, powdered sugar, and butter into a food processor. Process until the mixture is crumbly. (You can also whisk the powdered sugar and flour together in a large bowl, then cut in the butter with a pastry knife, but using the food processor makes this step fast and easy.)

Press the crust mixture firmly on the bottom of your prepared baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg, vanilla, and Karo syrup. Stir in the pecans. Spread the filling over the hot crust. Continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bars are golden brown. Cool completely. Cover. Refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars.

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Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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