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Carolina Pecan Bars

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Heavenly Carolina Pecan Bars: A Southern Sweet Sensation

Prepare to embark on a culinary journey through the heart of the South with these irresistible Carolina Pecan Bars. Bursting with the rich flavors of pecans, maple, and vanilla, these bars are the epitome of Southern charm. Whether you’re hosting a gathering or simply craving a sweet indulgence, these decadent treats are sure to delight your taste buds and leave you craving more.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Before we delve into the recipe, let’s address some common queries about these delightful Carolina Pecan Bars:

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Q: Can I use pre-chopped pecans for this recipe? A: Absolutely! While freshly chopped pecans offer the best flavor and texture, pre-chopped pecans are a convenient alternative that can be used interchangeably in this recipe.

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Q: Can I substitute the maple extract with maple syrup? A: Yes, you can! If you prefer to use maple syrup, simply reduce the amount of whole milk in the cake batter by 1 tablespoon for each tablespoon of maple syrup used.

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Q: How should I store Carolina Pecan Bars? A: Once cooled and frosted, store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving for the best taste and texture.

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Q: Can I freeze Carolina Pecan Bars? A: Yes, you can freeze the bars (without frosting) for up to 3 months. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before frosting and serving.

Now, let’s gather our ingredients and dive into the recipe.

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Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup butter (two sticks)
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk

For the Frosting:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 12 oz cream cheese (1 ½ packages), room temperature
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

1. Prepare Pecans

  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.
  • Add the chopped pecans and toast them for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

2. Preheat and Prepare

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper for easy removal.

3. Make Cake Batter

  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the white sugar and 1 cup of butter until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract and maple extract.

4. Combine Dry Ingredients

  • In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5. Mix Batter

  • Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, alternating with the whole milk, until just combined.
  • Fold in the toasted pecans until evenly distributed.

6. Bake

  • Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

7. Make Frosting

  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese, ⅔ cup butter, vanilla extract, maple extract, and 1 tablespoon of milk until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to achieve desired consistency.

8. Frost the Bars

  • Once the cake has cooled, spread the frosting evenly over the top.
  • For added flair, sprinkle extra chopped pecans on top of the frosting.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • For an extra indulgent touch, drizzle caramel sauce over the frosted bars before serving.
  • You can substitute the maple extract with maple syrup in the frosting for a richer maple flavor.
  • Experiment with different types of nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, for a unique twist on this classic recipe.

Keto Version:

  • To make a keto-friendly version of these bars, you can use almond flour or a combination of almond and coconut flour instead of all-purpose flour. Substitute the sugar with a keto-friendly sweetener such as erythritol or stevia. For the frosting, use powdered erythritol instead of powdered sugar and increase the amount of cream cheese for a thicker consistency.

Low-Carb Version:

  • Follow the keto version substitutions mentioned above, but you can also reduce the amount of maple extract or omit it altogether to lower the carb content further.

In conclusion, Carolina Pecan Bars are a delightful blend of Southern flavors that are sure to impress. With their buttery cake base, toasted pecans, and creamy maple frosting, these bars are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re serving them at a potluck, sharing them with friends, or simply enjoying them as a sweet indulgence, they are guaranteed to be a hit.

So, gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to experience the heavenly taste of Carolina Pecan Bars. With each bite, you’ll be transported to a place of warmth, comfort, and pure bliss. Enjoy every moment of savoring these delicious treats!

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