Vanilla Pecan Squares Recipe

Carrés de Noix de Pécan à la Vanille

Yesterday was my grandmother’s 92nd birthday. On this occasion, my parents, myself, and a few friends and relatives gathered at her place for a celebratory drink, before we all headed out to dinner. My mom had asked me if I felt like making a few sweet nibbles to go with the champagne. Me? Sweet nibbles? Have I ever *not* felt like making sweet nibbles? Ever? Not that I can remember! So I accepted, with glee.

After a happy leafing through my bounteous collection of cookbooks, magazine clippings, and saved web recipes, the winner of the day was this recipe, found in the excellent cookbook Mes Petits Plats 100% Naturels: Vanilla Pecan Squares. Easy breezy and scrumptious.

The texture of these is lovely: cakey, but airy and light, with slightly crunchy edges. They are not too sweet, the vanilla flavor is nicely present, and matches the toasted and crunchy pecans beautifully, with a subtle rum afterkick. Interestingly enough, a slight almond flavor comes through as well, though there is no almond at all in the recipe.

The book recommends those squares to accompany vanilla ice cream, which does sound good. They tasted great with tea , as we taste-tested them earlier that afternoon, and were perfect with a cup of champagne.

The recipe also seems like a very good basis for variations : next time I will try replacing the vanilla with some other extract or with lemon zest, using other nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, or topping the squares with chocolate chips or raspberries.

Vanilla Pecan Squares

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Vanilla Pecan Squares Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Makes 42.

Vanilla Pecan Squares Recipe


  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) neutral-tasting oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used the essence we brought back from the Seychelles)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 200 grams (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams (1 cup) pecans (about 42 pieces)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and have ready a square 20-by-20-cm (8-by-8-inch) cake pan, either nonstick or lined with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, mix the sugar and eggs until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add in the oil, the vanilla, and the rum, and mix again.
  4. Add in the flour and salt, mix again. The batter will be thick.
  5. Pour into the pan and even out the surface with a spatula. Place the pecan pieces regularly across the surface (you can do 6 rows of 7), to make it easier to slice later.
  6. Vanilla Pecan Squares
  7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and the pecans are fragrant (keep an eye on them, they'd be the first to burn).
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes, and cut into squares (actually, they'll likely be rectangles more than squares).
  9. Vanilla Pecan Squares
  10. Lift all the squares carefully from the pan, arrange them on a cookie sheet and return to the turned off oven for 30 minutes, so the edges dry out a bit. Let cool completely before serving.
  11. Vanilla Pecan Squares
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  • Hey Clotilde, I stumbled upon your site today and love it! I will be coming back regularily to borrow inspiration. I have never seen Brulee with herbs and they sound amazing, I can’t wait to try them! I was reading your french site as well about your experiences in the Silicon Valley, I have a few friends down there as well (Also foreigners) and they have made alot of the same observations you did, I look forward to getting back there and reading more. I need to practise my french anyway. Keep up the great work!


  • Sylvie

    C’est une bonne idée d’avoir pris une photo avant cuisson : j’aurais été inquiète d’avoir une pâte aussi liquide.
    Avais-tu mis un papier sulfurisé dans le fond du plat ?
    PS : pourquoi ne se souvient-“il” jamais de mon adresse e-mail, alors que je lui ai dit 20 fois de le retenir ? :)

  • Nassim

    Pour mes 92 ans, j’aimerais bien aussi des carrées de noix de pécan s’il te plait…allez encore 75 ans à attendre!
    ne les commence pas tout de suite :)

  • Erich – I’m glad you like the blog and the website! Say, do any of your Silicon Valley friends keep blogs of their life in the valley? I’d love to hear how they feel about it these days. The friends I still have over there tell me things are picking up somewhat…

  • Maman – Oui, moi aussi, je me disais “hmm… c’est liquide tout ça!” et puis en fait, ça allait. En plus, ça permet aux noix de pécan de bien tenir sur les carrés, puisqu’elles s’enfoncent un peu!

    Pour le “remember info”, autorises-tu les cookies sur ton navigateur? Je regarderai demain soir, si tu veux!

  • Nassim – c’est noté, tu les auras! Avec même un avant-goût pour ton prochain anniversaire, si tu veux! C’est quand?

  • Patrick

    The champagne was a Brut Millésimé Henriot, 1995 . It went well with Clotilde’s “Carrés”…

  • Céline

    Hello ma Pucette !

    mmm… qu’ils avaient l’air bons, ces carrés ! Ca me fait regretter encore plus de ne pas avoir pu etre avec vous pour l’occasion… :-(

    Mais je pense qu’on fera aussi de bonnes choses pour Noel, n’est-ce pas ? Et là, je serai là ! :-)

    Gros gros bisous,

  • Papa – Indeed, excellent champagne!

    Céline – Bien sûr qu’on fera des bonnes choses pour Noël! J’ai déjà des idées pour le menu du 25!

  • Inbal

    Hi Clotide!

    I love you site, the recipes, the photos, just everything.

    I tried these today, and while they came out a bit more cruncy than you described they are wonderful.

    I look forward to visiting here more.


  • Inbal – I’m really happy you tried these and you liked how they turned out! Thanks for reporting back, and I’ll look forward to your visits too!

  • Leah

    Hello Clotilde,

    Thank you for stopping by my poor, neglected blog and for your comments. I decided to pay you a visit, in turn.

    I’ve got some catching up to do, but from what I’ve read so far, I’m very impressed, both with the quality of your writing and the quality of your English. As for your cooking, I’ll have to try something out, won’t I?

  • Leah – it’s good to have you here! We missed you while you were “away”…

    As for trying something out, please, take your pick! And let me know how it goes!

  • Clotilde,

    I tried these today, and they are crisping up in the oven as we speak. They smell fantastic, and I’ll admit to sneaking one in before putting them back in the oven. YUM!

  • Rappy – I’m so glad I have talked you into trying these! To me, that is the ultimate compliment! :) How did they turn out in the end?

  • They turned out excellent, and there is only one left. It’s sitting in a container now, taunting me to eat it.

    I did find them a little sweeter than I’d like, so I might reduce the amount of sugar next time, but other than that, they were perfect.

  • May

    I came about a write -up about you in a local newspaper in Kuala Lumpur. I find your website very interesting. I would like to try out your recipe for the Vanilla Pecan Square (December 01, 2003). I have a problem deciphering the correct measurement of the vegetable oil used. How much is 10 cl? Your help is most appreciated.

  • May – 10 cl is 10 centiliters, equivalent to 100 ml, approximately 1/4 of a cup + 1 tablespoon.

  • I made these last night, and honestly, they didn’t work very well. Just looking at the volume of ingredients a 13×9 pan doesnt make any sense. We did them in 8×8 and they still came out dense and bland with a strange pasty texture. Oh well. This is the first recipe of yours that didnt work for me. I thought you should know…


  • Rachael – Thanks for reporting back, I’m sorry they didn’t turn out well for you.

    Regarding the size of the pan: I use a 33 by 20 cm pan, and that’s very close to a 13 by 9 pan. The batter forms a rather shallow layer in the pan, but these are small squares that are not meant to be thick, just 2/3 inch or so, to get a good crust-to-crumb ratio.

    I can imagine that the texture wouldn’t be right if you baked it in a smaller pan — you would have to lengthen the baking time then, too.

    Regarding the blandness, can I ask what sort of rum and vanilla you used?

  • Natasha

    I just made this recipe for the second time. The first time I made it, many months ago, I freaked out a little when I saw that the batter didn’t reach the edge of the pan without being spread by a spatula, so I switched it to a smaller pan and it worked fine. This time I made it almost exactly to your specifications (with the exception that I switched walnuts in for the pecans). In the size pan you specified, it was perfect, just really amazing and I’ll definitely be making it again. I think the problem was, ultimately, that I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a biscuit recipe or a cake recipe, and now, having made it to your specifications, I can see why you didn’t make it entirely clear because it’s not really either! Thank you for a wonderful, original recipe

  • Meghan Mathieson

    I gave this recipe a try and the squares turned out nicely. I did half with pecans and half with almonds, just to see which I liked better. I lined my pan with parchment paper, which makes taking the squares out easy!

    • That’s lovely to hear, Meghan, thank you for reporting back! And so, which did you like better: the pecan or the almond version?

      • Meghan Mathieson

        I think I prefer the almond version, but both are delicious, with a subtle flavour.

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