Call these maple walnut squares whatever your heart desires. Bars. Blondies. Brownies. Bar cookies. They still offer the same superlatively sweet and gooey maple awesomeness atop a sweet shortbread crust regardless of what they’re dubbed.
Curious what to expect from these maple walnut squares? “Delicious and intensely maple-y.” “Similar to a pecan pie but creamier with a caramel chew.” “So much easier than making pie and with amazing results.” “I would eat these before any chocolate dessert any day.” “A recipe I’ll make again and again.” That’s what folks are saying about these superlatively gooey maple walnut squares or bars or blondies or bar cookies or brownies or whatever you want to call them besides perfection. Originally published October 26, 2015.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Maple Walnut Squares
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 2 H, 30 M
- Makes 9 (or more) squares
- For the crust
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled, plus more for pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
- 1/4 cup maple sugar*
- For the filling
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup maple sugar* or turbinado sugar
- 1 cup maple syrup (preferably American Grade B or Canadian Grade A Dark)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Make the crust
- 1. Heat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing the excess to hang over the sides, and butter and flour the parchment, tapping out any excess flour.
- 2. In a food processor, process the butter, flour, and maple sugar until combined. Press the crust evenly in the bottom of the pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
- Make the filling
- 3. Whisk together the flour, maple sugar or turbinado sugar, maple syrup, walnuts, salt, and eggs. Pour the filling over the warm baked crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is golden brown and set, 30 to 35 minutes.
- 4. Let the maple walnut squares goodness cool in the pan for about 2 hours. Then lift out the entire block using edges of the parchment paper as handles, place it on a cutting board, and cut into squares. (You can cover and refrigerate the maple walnut squares for up to 5 days. The maple flavor will intensify somewhat the longer the bars are left in the fridge.)
*What Can I Substitute For The Maple Sugar?
- We subjected ourselves to the tyranny (ahem) of making these maple walnut squares over and over again with you in mind, dear reader. Sometimes we baked the bars with pricey maple sugar exactly as the recipe directs. Other times we swapped the less expensive and more readily available turbinado sugar because we wanted to see if there’s a discernible difference. Recipe tester Suzanne Fortier summed up our findings quite well, saying “The maple sugar changed the texture slightly, making it a little thicker and more pudding-like. Although the maple sugar version was delicious and intensely maple-y, all my tasters felt it was too sweet. The turbinado (cheaper) version was preferred.” If you wish to try it with maple sugar and don’t mind tracking it down and paying the rather steep price tag or making it yourself, by all means, have at it. We like the maple sugar from King Arthur Flour. Although as for us, we’ll make our own or stick with the less pricey and readily available turbinado sugar, thank you very much.
Recipe Testers Reviews
I've been slightly obsessed with all things maple since my recent trip to Quebec City, which included a visit to a seventh-generation maple producer and numerous souvenirs. Although I had no maple sugar in the house, I was keen to try this maple walnut squares recipe. Three stores did not carry it. So I followed the recipe exactly except I subbed turbinado sugar 1-for-1 for maple sugar. (Duh. I didn't even think to check for substitutions. Maple sugar is twice as sweet as cane sugar. Remember this.) Nonetheless, these bars were such a big hit! So I splurged and ordered maple sugar online from Amazon and found that $10 worth was just enough for this recipe. (Yikes.) I made these bars again with the maple sugar, and both times the bars baked for 35 minutes, and the result was gooey but firm. The maple sugar changed the texture slightly, making it a little thicker and more pudding-like. Although the maple sugar version was delicious and intensely maple-y, all my tasters felt it was too sweet. The turbinado (cheaper) version was preferred. I used a Canadian grade A dark maple syrup, and I would suggest using the same or an American grade B (Trader Joe's carries it) because it has a more robust maple flavor than grade A Amber. The bars kept beautifully for 4 to 5 days in the fridge—not that I would expect yours to last this long. I tried to have some dignity. Anyway, the maple flavor actually intensifies after chilling. A winner at my house and a recipe I'll make again and again.
Normally I am a chocolate fan, but I would eat these maple walnut squares before any chocolate dessert any day. The crust is flaky with a touch of maple flavor. The filling is similar to a pecan pie but creamier with a caramel chew. The prep is so much easier than making pie and with amazing results. It took me 10 minutes to put the crust together in the food processor and press it into the pan. I always line my pan with parchment paper, but I did butter and flour the paper before I pressed the crust into the pan. While the crust was baking, I whisked together the flour, maple sugar, and salt. I added the maple syrup and eggs, whisking it together. Once the 15 minutes baking time for the crust was up, I poured the filling on top of the golden, hot crust. It took 30 minutes baking time to set the filling. It was about 2 hours until the bars were cool enough to eat. (That is as long as I could wait to try one.) Thankfully, I cut the squares into 16 bars instead of 9, because I could not stop at 1 bar. These are fabulous plain but could be topped with whipped or ice cream. This is a unique dessert, good for a weekday or celebration.
I really struggled with how to rate this recipe because it’s easy to make and the bars are delicious. But (you knew there was a but) maple sugar is difficult to find and it’s expensive. Add an entire 10-ounce bottle of pure maple syrup and you may have to charge admission just to serve them. The problem is these are pretty good. They reminded me of pecan pie, which is a very good thing. The flavor is missing something, I thought. Maybe a little more salt (salted roasted snacking nuts rather than unsalted baking ones could be a delish choice) or a hint of spice? The shortbread crust is a major plus, but the filling is sweet. I found 9 bars to be too many—12 is a better option since they are so sweet. I’m kind of torn, as you can probably tell.