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Monday, October 23, 2017

Trader Joe's Maple Pecan Shortbread Bar Mix

At time of writing, I'm wrapping up an entire weekend of solo Dada duty while Sandy's out of town on a business trip. Just me and my girls. Going into this, I had some big plans - camping, hiking, maybe even playing on a lakeside beach somewhere (late October, yes, but it's in the 70s) - but alas it was not to be. Had a pretty bad tendonitis flare up so have been hobbling around and haven't wanted to over do anything.

Which kinda worked out, anyways. Asked the kids what they wanted to do - "Ride bikes! Play games! Go to playground!" - so that's what we've been doing. Sounds kinda dull, in some ways, but honestly, it's been awesome. Just goes to show it doesn't always have to be some big adventure to have a great time. Don't just take my word for it, here's a take from another Russell.

So, it kinda means something when I asked M, our five year old, what her favorite part of the day was just a few minutes ago, she said "Helping you make our treat." And our treat was, you guessed it, Trader Joe's Maple Pecan Shortbread Bar Mix.

It's a really simple mix to do. Almost Dad-proof. Add some butter, an egg, a little water, that's it. It's a two-part deal - the crust and the filling. Beat the crust mix with butter in a mixer, then press into place in an 8x8. That's the part me and the kids really got into - squishing crumbs into place is a total blast with little fingers. it's also where we goofed the most - the crust didn't need to be nearly as up the sides as we made it, but I had no idea, and the box gave no indication. Bake up the crust, and be aware it also surprisingly poofs up quite well. Mix up the filling (again, fun for little ones to stir, hard to goof up) then pour into crust and bake again. Cool, slice, eat. Yum?

Yeah, it ain't bad. Not terribly special, but it's solid. Think typical pecan bar, or imagine pecan pie with much smaller bits of nuts. That sweet, thick, sugary molasses pecan goopy goodness? It's all there. And the shortbread crust gets crumbly and a little greasy and holds the whole shebang together admirably. I may or may not have eaten a quarter of the pan already.

But...what about the maple? I mean, it says it's a maple pecan bar! There's...just not that much. If I didn't know it was supposed to be there, I wouldn't have tasted it. It's just subtle and easy to miss with the sugar and molasses, etc. Needs more maple.

Worth a try if an easy autumnal-type treat is needed. I'm not sure we'll make a repeat purchase, as they seem pretty par for the course, not special, not awful. So, in all, pretty solid. My kids really liked 'em though, so there's that. Easy Dad win, hard to properly quantify that, but I'll take it. Let's just say pretty darn good overall.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Maple Pecan Shortbread Mix: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


  1. Kids always LOVE to "help" in the kitchen! What a fantastic memory for them to have of baking treats with you :)) decades later some of my fondest memories from when i was about 6 years old or so was when i "helped" my mom in the kitchen with anything from stemming green beans to making pancakes.
    Not sure this bar mix is something i need in my life but i might pick one up for those last minute social gatherings around the holidays when i want to bring something that isn't labor intensive

  2. I think it would be fun in a tart form

  3. I made these and everyone loved them. I had people asking for the recipe. Ages 83-20

  4. I've made this and think it is fabulous. I brought it to my sewing club meeting and had people begging for the recipe. I think if you try it again, don't bring the crust up the sides like in your photo. Just put it in the pan bottom and press it out evenly and into the corners. It gives a nice contrast in textures of all the main ingredients.

    I've bought another box, and several others to give away as gifts. I hope they keep this on past the winter celebrations.

  5. Made this the other day and it is so good. I even added more pecans.

  6. Sick that Trader Joe’s doesn’t have this mix this holiday season. It was my favorite and didn’t have the taste of a mix at all.


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