Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.
Add in the butter, one piece at a time, pulsing until a dough forms. (SEE NOTES)
Add the vanilla extract and mix. Press the dough into the lined pan.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the shortbread just starts to brown on top.
Pecan Pie Topping:
Combine all the pecan pie topping ingredients in a saucepan and heat until bubbling.
Pour mixture on top of HOT shortbread.
Return to the oven and bake another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.
Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Once FULLY cooled, remove from the baking dish, take the parchment paper off, and slice into bars. Use a sharp, warm knife to make slicing easier.
The bars can be stored in an airtight container. I recommend keeping them in the fridge so they don't melt. They can also be frozen (SEE NOTES).
Always make sure the butter stays cold. If the butter gets too warm, your shortbread will not set right.
You can substitute honey for the maple syrup if you don't have any. I've used them both and always have great results.
I don't recommend using whole pecans. For best results, use pecan pieces.
When you make the dough, it's important to add the butter in small pieces one at a time, pulsing the food processor in between. I recommend only using the pulse setting. Once all butter is added, the texture should be crumbly. DO NOT OVER PROCESS.
Pouring the pecan pie mixture onto hot shortbread allows the mixture to seep into the shortbread, which is what we want.
It is extremely important to let these cool and set properly. Otherwise you will have a goopy mess. I highly recommend storing them in the fridge.
To make it easier to slice the bars, use a very sharp knife and run it under hot water to heat the blade. The warm blade should slide through the bars easier.
To freeze: Place the sliced pecan bars on a baking sheet and place them directly in the freezer for 6-8 hours, or until frozen through. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag to store in the freezer for up to 4 months. To defrost, place the bars on a plate or baking sheet and defrost in the fridge overnight.