Note from Mommypotamus: How perfect is this? Research shows that focusing our lives around experiences rather than things creates more lasting happiness, which is why earlier this week I wrote about how my family creates experiences through fun family traditions. Some of the best traditions are unique twists on time-honored favorites, which is why I’m so excited to share this recipe for chocolate maple pecan pie bars with you. It’s from Megan of Eat Beautiful, and I think this a perfect tradition to start this year.
When you combine chocolate with tradition, you get the ultimate in comfort food. Pecan pie is such a fall favorite, and always welcome at holiday tables. Adding cocoa to this gooey goodness creates a new favorite for everyone.
These bars can be made in pie form, too, for a more festive and fancy holiday gathering. As bars, watch out; they’ll be grabbed up quickly…until they’re all gone!
This recipe is a popular offering at our Paleo cafe, in Eugene, OR. The crust is pastry-like, despite being grain-free. And the filling, well, it’s everything you’d want it to be: chocolaty, mapley, not cloyingly sweet, full of pecans…and, as an added bonus, I care so much about digestion and wellness that the pecans are sprouted; so they’re easy to digest.
If you’re intimidated by sprouting, it’s fast and easy! Simply putting raw nuts into a bowl of salt water at bedtime, rinsing them off in the morning, and dehydrating them is all it takes! Neutralizing anti-nutrients makes the process well worth adopting, relieving any stress on one’s digestive mechanism and allowing the body to assimilate the nuts’ nutrition.
These bars come from my cookbook, EAT BEAUTIFUL: Grain-free, Sugar-free and Loving It. And that’s the spirit of the book: great nutrition, digestion and awesome sweets! My goal is to provide alternatives to favorite treats, free of refined sugars for those who love to bake with honey, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar or stevia. And alternatives to grains, for those of us who need to find healing, sealing up our guts with gentle nourishing food.
Desserts can be good for us! In moderation and with careful choices, let’s indulge and enjoy. I hope that with this book I’ve taken the guess work out of healthy baking. My recipes don’t use almond flour or almond butter, because many such recipes already exist. And while they are yummy, they are high in omega 6’s, which need to be limited. So keep those recipes, yes! But change it up a bit, too, by adding in variety and more omega-3’s.
My approach is health and feasting, combined. All of my recipes take both these priorities into account.
I hope you’ll have the chance to enjoy my recipe book and these lovely Chocolate Maple Pecan Pie Bars!
Chocolate Maple Pecan Pie Bars (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
Yields one 8” square crust or 1 traditional pie crust.
Cashew Pastry Crust
- 2 cups cashew flour (measured from 4 cups cashews, pureed into a meal in the blender)
- 1 whole egg, preferably grass-fed
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare crust first, allowing it time to cool while you prepare the filling.
- Place the nut flour in an empty food processor or an extra wide blender (such as Blendtec’s WildSide+ model). Add other ingredients.
- Process, pulsing as necessary, until the ingredients are evenly mixed, and the texture of the crust is crumbly but sticking together well. A ball will begin to form.
- Dump out the contents of the blender into your casserole dish or pie plate and press the dough evenly over the surface and up the sides.
Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, just until it begins to show golden spots and puffed subtle bubbles in places. Cool the crust slightly while you prepare the filling. (If a large bubble forms early on in the baking of the crust, pop the bubble with the point of a sharp knife.)
Chocolate Maple Pecan Filling
Yields filling for 1 pie.
- 2 cups sprouted*, dehydrated pecans or walnuts
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 eggs, preferably grass-fed
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Place maple syrup, eggs, cocoa, coconut oil and vanilla into a blender and puree until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds. Add nuts to blender and stir in by hand.
- Pour filling into the warm crust. It will be very runny. Move around any nuts to fill the crust evenly.
- Carefully transfer the pie to the oven and bake until the edges of the filling are puffed and cracked and the middle is just set.
- Allow bars or pie to cool on a wire rack. Chill 3 hours or overnight, and serve.
*How to Soak and Sprout Nuts
Equipment needed: a dehydrator (or see options below)
For every 4 cups raw nuts, cover by two inches with room-temperature filtered water and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Leave uncovered at room temperature overnight, then drain and rinse well in the morning. They are now ready to be dehydrated in a dehydrator for 24 to 72 hours, depending on the kind of nut. Dehydrating can be done at temperatures ranging from 95 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Some ovens or bread warmers will maintain this temperature well. So purchasing a dehydrator might not be necessary if you do not already own one. The nuts are fully dehydrated when they are crispy to bite and dry inside. Allow one to fully cool before testing, to be sure.
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