Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Maple, Pecan, & Butternut Shortbread Bars


I've spent the past few weeks going through everything in our house in a bit of a reverse fall-cleaning frenzy. It all began when we came home with the wedding presents and I realized we had absolutely nowhere to put them, and since we hadn't gone through any of our things since we moved in over a year and a half ago, there was definitely a bunch of stuff in the cabinets that we weren't using, wasn't relevant, or that had broken. So, after weeks of elbow grease and finally locating an electronics recycling center in LA (which is a lot harder than one would imagine), the whole place has been reorganized and I can actually take things out of my kitchen cabinets now without fear of a half dozen spice jars that were precariously pushed towards the edge raining down on me. Flinching reflex be gone!


While going through the cabinets, I came across a little bottle of maple syrup I'd bought while I was in Vermont visiting Carey and King Arthur Flour. I'd completely forgotten about it, and since I was in my "everything must go or be used!" mindset, I decided to put them to good use along with a butternut squash I had in the house and a box of Walkers pure butter shortbread cookies. Since the flavors were pretty fall-y, I decided to round it out by tossing some pecans on top after marinating them in the maple syrup. This was my first attempt in years at bar-making, and after making the whole house smell like autumn and inhaling the first three bars I tried, I felt I'd done good. So if you're itching to get started on the fall season, I highly recommend giving these guys a try.



Also! Walkers shortbread is offering 25% off all purchases excluding sale items until Monday, September 23rd with the code ACFRUIT. So if you're craving quality sweet crumbly shortbread, now's the time to succumb.


Ingredients:

Pecan Topping

1 and 1/2 cups pecan pieces
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, whisked
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons water

Butternut Filling

3 eggs
1 and 3/4 cup butternut squash puree
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cream
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To prepare the pecan topping, lightly toss together all of the ingredients in a small bowl and set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the crust, mix together the shortbread crumbs, powdered sugar, egg, flour, olive oil, and salt until combined. Add the water until the mixture juuuust starts to hold together, it's okay if it's still a bit crumbly. Form the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until use.


For the filling, blend together all ingredients until completely combined. Set aside. Take the crust dough and crumble it over a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Press it into the bottom of the pan to form an even crust. Pour the butternut filling into the pan over the crust and place the pan in the oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove it and sprinkle the pecan mixture evenly over the top. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for another 20-35 minutes, or until the butternut filling is set. Remove and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing and serving.



29 comments:

  1. I am seeing a bunch a fall recipes lately, and I must say yours hooked me with the word "Butternut" in the title. What an intriguing addition to a shortbread bar! Then, I saw how beautiful it looked in your pictures once I clicked over from my feed. I am absolutely pinning this for our next dessert. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you so much Diana! I really loved the flavor combination on these little guys :)

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  2. These are so beautiful! What a fun way to use Walkers Shortbreads!

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  3. ... what a great way to use up squash!

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  4. Mmm, I can smell these already! I'm fully into the fall baking season so these are definitely going on the to-make list.

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    1. Thank you so much Stephanie! I am SO excited for fall :D

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  5. I am soo not ready for Fall but I could definitely use some of these bars now :) on a side note, I need to clean my spice cabinet too.

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    1. Haha, yeah my spice cabinet often becomes a black hole of tiny canisters. So many of them!

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  6. Your bars look amazing. Honestly, fall hit us so early.
    Love how you've incorporated squash in it.

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    1. Thank you Asha :) Yes it's funny how quickly it comes about, one week it's sweltering outside and the next the showers have come!

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  7. I need a burst of your energy and a big plate of these bars!

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    1. Hahaha, thanks Katie!! The bars certainly will help you energize :)

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  8. These are so wonderfully unique. I absolutely cannot wait to try this fun treat!

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    1. Thank you Katrina! If you try it let me know how it comes out for you :)

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  9. Hurray for hidden VT maple syrup!!! :D An epic house cleaning of any kind is always awesome, but most especially when you have a bunch of shiny new things to replace all the old stuff with!

    These bars look and sound amazing, and it makes me wonder why I've never used butternut squash in a sweet dish before. I am in full-on mega fall eats mode, so I want to eat all of these and put butternut squash and maple syrup in ALL the desserts! (Also that photo of the butternut squash and all the shortbread crackers...I died.) :)

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    1. Yeah it was kind of fun going through all the stuff and cleaning house, there's just something weirdly relaxing about that. It feels good to simplify :)

      And thank you! The butternut worked really well in the bars, so creamy and warm and tasty, especially with the cinnamon and other spices. And I'm so glad you liked that photo, it was my first time using a different aspect ratio for a photo and I really liked how it came out, too!

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  10. Yep, my eyes are popping out of my head. It's definitely 2.30am here and I SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO BE PERUSING YOUR BLOG.

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    1. Hahaha! Thanks Irina :) They were so tasty, a great little treat for the incoming fall weather.

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  11. Oh my I do have to make these bars. This is food porn. I pin the first picture. And subscribed to your updates :)

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    1. Awww thank you Helene! I am so glad you liked this post and have subscribed :D

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  12. Oh man the textures here! What a wonderful fall dessert.

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah! I really liked the crunch of the pecans against the creamy squash, too :)

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  13. As always Eva, you are such an incredible visionary!! Gorgeous!!

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  14. i'm not entirely sure that butternut squash deserves this kind of royal treatment... :)

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  15. Oh goodness, how beautiful! Such a perfect flavor combination :) I can't wait to make this for my husband!

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  16. OMG these look so delicious, this may be something I'll try

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