Wholesome Pecan Bars (or Pie)

Aaahhh…. winter… a time to get baking & warm your kitchen with the oven.  I love to warm up my body with the physical activity of pouring, mixing, stirring, kneading… then pouring myself a pot of tea while the oven does the rest of the work.

Today’s treat is Pecan Bars (thought pictured below I made them with Almonds)… based on a recipe from the book Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar  This recipe uses all wholesome ingredients and is easy to make gluten free.

According to Ayurveda, the sweet taste is the first taste… it is the taste of mothers’ milk and is also the first taste that we cognize on the tongue.  Sweet taste is made of the elements earth & water, and therefor (in moderation) is nourishing, grounding, soothing, and cooling.  This recipe is quite sweet! The pecans contribute a warming & nourishing protein.

Pecan Bars

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use Namaste  or Authentic Foods gluten free blends)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A big pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup organic unsalted butter (or use salted butter and remove the “pinch of salt” from the ingredients)

Pecan Topping Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot (found at health food stores in baking or bulk section) – if not available use cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup organic cream or milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted organic unsalted butter (or use salted butter and remove the “pinch of salt” from the ingredients)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (or almonds for almond bars)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13x2-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, making sure the foil completely covers the sides of the pan, with about 2 inches folded outside over the edges. Spray the bottom and sides of the pan generously with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare the Shortbread
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or two knives held together to cut in the margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Pour crumbs into the prepared baking pan and press down evenly and very firmly, making sure to press the mixture all the way to the edges of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until firm and very lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside.

Prepare the Topping

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and nondairy milk until foamy. Stir in the dark brown sugar, brown rice syrup, melted margarine, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Fold in the pecans and pour the mixture onto the crust, using a spatula to spread the topping evenly.

4. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is rapidly bubbling. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then move it to the refrigerator to finish cooling and setting. Chill for at least 2 hours or, even better, overnight.

5. To slice completely cooled bars, grab a hold of the foil and carefully lift the whole thing out of the pan and onto a heavy cutting board. Peel away the foil and cut bars with a heavy, sharp knife.


  • Exchange the pecans with almonds – keep in mind the bars will be crunchier and a little more like candy… but it’s delicious!
  • Exchange the butter for oil & the milk for almond milk to make the recipe vegan (or acceptable for those with dairy sensitivity).  In this case, you can simply stir the oil into the shortbread dry ingredients with a fork until just mixed (don’t overmix).
  • Exchange the shortbread bottom with a pie crust.  Make the crust dough, lay in a pie plate and before baking, fill in with the pecan topping recipe.  I did this for Thanksgiving, using Martha Stewart’s Recipe for Pie Crust, then baked it for a little longer than the bar recipe, because in a pie, the filling was a little thicker – I baked it at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes.

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