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Carolina Pecan Bars with Frosting Recipe

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Carolina Pecan Bars with Frosting are a rich and indulgent treat, perfect for special occasions or any time you crave something sweet and nutty. These bars combine a buttery pecan base with a creamy frosting, creating a delightful dessert that’s sure to impress. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the ingredients, instructions, and tips for making the perfect Carolina Pecan Bars with Frosting. Additionally, we’ll provide variations and address frequently asked questions to ensure you achieve the best results.

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Ingredients

For the Carolina Pecan Bars:

  • 1½ cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter (for greasing the pan)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Frosting:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon each of maple and vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Pecan Bars

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and line it with parchment paper for easy removal.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Cream Butter and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the 1 cup of unsalted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add Eggs and Extracts: Beat in the eggs one at a time, ensuring each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and maple extract.
  5. Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in Pecans: Gently fold in the chopped pecans until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  7. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Step 2: Prepare the Frosting

  1. Cream Butter and Cream Cheese: In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup of unsalted butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add Powdered Sugar: Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add Extracts and Milk: Mix in the maple and vanilla extracts. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.

Step 3: Assemble the Bars

  1. Frost the Bars: Once the bars are completely cool, spread the frosting evenly over the top using a spatula.
  2. Cut into Bars: Carefully lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares or rectangles.
  3. Serve: Serve the Carolina Pecan Bars with Frosting immediately, or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Cooking Notes and Variations

Cooking Notes

  • Softened Ingredients: Ensure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature for easier mixing and a smoother texture.
  • Pecan Variation: Toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes before adding them to the batter to enhance their flavor.

Variations

  1. Chocolate Pecan Bars: Add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the batter for a chocolatey twist.
  2. Coconut Pecan Bars: Stir in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut along with the pecans for a tropical flavor.
  3. Cinnamon Frosting: Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the frosting for a warm, spiced flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can I use a different type of nut?

A: Yes, you can substitute the pecans with walnuts, almonds, or your favorite nuts.

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Q2: How do I store the bars?

A: Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving for the best texture and flavor.

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Q3: Can I freeze these bars?

A: Yes, you can freeze the bars. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil or place them in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

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Q4: What can I serve with these bars?

A: These bars are delicious on their own, but you can also serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

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Q5: Can I make these bars gluten-free?

A: Yes, you can substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend to make these bars gluten-free.

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Carolina Pecan Bars with Frosting are a rich and indulgent treat that’s perfect for any occasion. With their buttery pecan base and creamy frosting, these bars are sure to be a hit with family and friends. Follow these simple steps and tips to create a delicious and satisfying dessert that everyone will enjoy. Serve these delightful bars with your favorite accompaniments for a perfect treat!