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Carolina Pecan Bars

  • 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
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet. Once melted added chopped pecans and stir until toasted, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sugar and 1 cup butter. Beat until fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs, beating to combine then add vanilla and maple extracts.
  4. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Thoroughly mix.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, alternating with the 1 cup of milk. Mix until just combined, then fold in the toasted pecans.
  6. Transfer batter to the prepared baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. As cake bakes, start on the frosting: combine powdered sugar, cream cheese, ⅔ cup butter, vanilla extract, and maple extract in a large bowl. Beat until smooth then add just enough milk to make the consistency spreadable.
  8. Once cake is done baking and cool enough to handle, divide in half. Scoop out one half of the cake into a large bowl and crumble it. Stir ¼ of the frosting into the crumbled cake. Repeat process with a second half of the cake.
  9. Transfer the cake crumble back into the baking dish and press into one even layer.
  10. Top the pressed cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle with additional pecan pieces if desired.
  11. Refrigerate until fully set, 4 hours or overnight. Cut into small squares and serve chilled.