Sarah Ballance’s Pecan Pie Bars

From Sarah Ballance

I have a treat for you today; my first guest blogger! My friend, writer Sarah Ballance, has agreed to share some memories and recipe with us. Since she has put so much more into the recipe, I will let her get away with starting it with a boxed cake mix!

Sarah is a prolific writer of Romantic Suspense Novels. If  that is not your cup of tea or your  TBR (To Be Read) list is like mine, (longer than I am tall), let me suggest her supernatural short-story “Hawthorne”, which is one of my absolute favorites![Available for Kindle, Nook, iPad  and now, in print!]

Sarah is also an accomplished cook, making much of her food from scratch and with ingredients she and her husband grow themselves. As if any one of her involvements would not be more than enough for any one person, she raises pigs …and children! I don’t know how many oinkers she has, but there are six beautiful children that she even manages to homeschool!. Go, Sarah!

Sarah lends her talents to charitable works as well, (as you can see, since she is here to give me a boost!)

Please look for her at, as you will not find her in the phonebook. “Sarah Balance” is her nom de plume; her real name is Wonder Woman!

Welcome, Sarah!

“Handy” Pecan Pie Bars

Pecan pie. Just the words bring back memories, the most prominent of which is shelling pecans. Until my fingers hurt. My grandma made everything from scratch (if the grocery store sold shelled nuts back then, they never graced her threshold), and I can barely remember eating the pie, but I remember those darn shells. Today, years later, I don’t share her aversion for ready-to-use nuts sold in plastic bags, but as a busy mom of six, I jumped at the chance to enjoy the taste without the fuss . . . or the dessert dishes. Enter pecan pie bars.

This recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor has been slightly adapted. Why, you ask? Because the last time I made these bars I handily grabbed the yellow cake mix needed and got to work. Only . . . the crust didn’t look right. It’s supposed to be the soft hue of real butter, but instead it was neon yellow and greasy. A quick look at my ingredients revealed the problem. My cake mix was only 15.25 ounces and I needed 18.25 ounces. GAH! I knew I shouldn’t have gotten the cheaper box of cake mix! So off to the store I went. Or shall I say BACK to the store with all six of my kids. For cake mix.

Only to discover they no longer have the 18.25 ounce box. Really?  So I bought an extra box and grumbled. And went home to start over. And improvise.

I didn’t weigh the mix when I tried to fix this, but after adding about ¼ of a cup of mix from the second box, I got the consistency I remembered and the bars turned out perfectly. This is noted in the recipe, which is incredibly delicious. Who knew pecan pie could so easily be a finger food? (My fingers, incidentally, prefer eating to shelling. Sorry, Grandma!)


Pecan Pie Bars (slightly adapted from Ann Bryne’s The Cake Mix Doctor)



  • ·         16.25 box of yellow cake mix + ¼ cup
  • ·         8 tablespoons melted butter (1 stick)
  • ·         1 large egg


  • ·         ¾ c. dark corn syrup
  • ·         ¼ packed light brown sugar
  • ·         2 large eggs
  • ·         1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ·         1 ½ c. pecans (chopped or halves)


  1. 1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Set aside an ungreased 13×9” glass baking dish.
  2. 2.       Combine cake mix, melted butter, and egg in a large mixing bowl. (If butter is hot, don’t add it directly to the egg or the egg might begin to cook.) Blend with electric mixer on low speed until well combined, scraping sides as necessary. Dough will form a large ball. Transfer it to the baking dish and press evenly across the bottom and about ½ inch up the sides.
  3. 3.       Bake in preheated oven until it just starts to brown, 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven. Leave oven on.
  4. 4.       Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In the same mixing bowl (no need to clean it), add corn syrup, brown sugar, remaining eggs, and vanilla. Blend on medium speed until well combined. Stir in pecans.
  5. 5.       Pour the filling over the baked crust, spreading with a spatula until pecans are well distributed. Return pan to oven.
  6. 6.       Bake until the crust is golden brown and filling just begins to set, 18-22 minutes. (Bars will thicken as they cool, so it’s important not to overcook them.) Remove from oven and cool pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes.
  7. 7.       Cut into 24 bars.
  8. 8.       Freeze up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

About Sarah Ballance

Sarah writes fiction. Why? Because she has six young children, and if she wants anyone to listen to her she’s got to make them up. Her favorite genre to write is romantic suspense, though she’s also written contemporary and ghostly things. To learn more, visit her website at or her blog at


37 thoughts on “Sarah Ballance’s Pecan Pie Bars

  1. jeff salter

    Always a treat to visit with Sarah. Though I had no idea she knew her way around a kitchen!
    I’ll echo what Tonette said about Sarah’s story, “Hawthorne” — it’s terrific.
    Since I’m on a gluten-free diet, I’ll reserve comment about the other treat here … though I’ll have to say that pecan pie used to be among my top 3 fav pies.

    1. sarahballance

      I cook SO much. Mostly from scratch. Holidays around here are ridiculous – I think I have 12 dishes (so far) planned on the main course for Thanksgiving – but as much as I love those piles of homecooked everythings (LOL) I’m actually known throughout the community – and especially my church – for my desserts. I’m really shy, so it’s almost embarrassing. (Eeep!) Thanks for visiting, Jeff, and for your wonderful words on Hawthorne!

      1. jeff salter

        I guess I should have realized that you’d spend a lot of time feeding that herd (meant in the most loving connotation, of course) in your household.
        But with cooking, and your teaching, and all the mom / wife investments — how on earth do you find time to WRITE? Much less to promote?

      2. sarahballance

        It’s a carefully constructed house of cards, Jeff! LOL. I have all day to get the household and kid stuff done, and after dinner my husband takes over with the kids (or if he works late, they’re old enough for me to shut the door) and I do writerly things until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. In theory, it’s easy. (Sigh. LOL.)

  2. sarahballance

    Yay! Thanks so much for allowing me a visit into your corner of the web. I am now desperately wishing I had more of these bars, LOL, but with six kids and The Husband, they are SO long gone! Glad to be here, Tonette. Much appreciated!

  3. tonettejoyce Post author

    Sarah, stay around! Look, you even got appreciated from Italy!
    Get over your shyness, Sarah,I had to. Making beautiful, tasty food is a way of touching people in so many ways…something to see, feel, smell, taste…it is very comforting and uplifting, used in the right ways;just served with love.
    Jeff, you brought it up! I expect you to fulfill your promise of giving a bit of a ‘how-to’ concerning gluten-free entertaining alternatives!

    1. sarahballance

      Wow! That’s pretty amazing. (And I want to go to Italy but I am NOT taking our boat and the H is NOT flying, so we’ve almost decided to compromise by booking a cruise, but not for a few years. We want to go ALONE, lol.) Thank you again for your kind words, Tonette. And Jeff … ahem … looking forward to your guest spot here! ;c)

  4. tonettejoyce Post author

    I’ll let him take the easy road.After all, this is about ‘entertaining’ as well as cooking, and though I want to show people that they can cook, I want to show people how to handle any guest.Jeff’s extensive experience with what tastes good that is available out there would be invaluable to people who have no clue on how to serve a guest who needs to go ‘gluten-free foods’ .AND I know he has come up with a few alternative but good recipes himself!(I only need one). The holidays are coming up,Jeff.It would be nice to have something for Christmas and New Year’s and/or Football parties.
    Hang in there ,Sarah; the people are being slow today.Sometimes I get ‘likes’ and comments a week later.

  5. tonettejoyce Post author

    Sarah,I’m half-Italian; my grandparents and some of my mother’s siblings were born in ‘the old country’.My mother’s first language was Italian.I have not gotten there….yet?

    1. sarahballance

      If you want to go, I hope you’ll have the opportunity. I just love the “old” countries. The architecture . . . what those centuries old buildings have seen — just amazes me. I went to Spain the summer after 9th grade (the year they hosted the World’s Fair in Sevilla and the Barcelona Olympics) and still think about it so often. The elevator broke on us in Sevilla and we missed our tour bus, so my three friends, our teacher, and I toured the city for hours via horse and carriage. Amazing. When you arrive at the Royal Palace in an ornate carriage behind a prancing white horse, you remember it! LOL.

      1. tonettejoyce Post author

        Shades of Cinderella! Wow, what a memory to take home and hold…well, obviously you did!
        I have no patience with people who travel and just go to the local McDonald’s and say they are bored. Many Americans don’t realize the history-in-the-air in most of the rest of the world.
        Spain! Ever since I saw a documentary on the Prado,I have wanted to go…and then I heard Melanie Griffith talk about the house she and Antonio Banderas have on the very bottom of Spain.My life was touched when I read: “On a clear day, you can see Africa”. For some reason, that grabbed me;I would love to be at the tip of Spain , gaze across the Strait and see Spain.

    1. tonettejoyce Post author

      We’re so glad to have you with us! If you need to alter any ingredients, perhaps you’d like to share your discovery with us! Thanks so much for coming by.

  6. pregoandtheloon

    These sound delicious… typically I would be at work today, but today I am at home with a sick toddler. If I’m able to gather all the ingredients maybe I’ll make us a little treat! Thanks for sharing!

  7. tonettejoyce Post author

    So glad you came by this blog, as well! I hope you come back and peruse the rest of the postings… and Sarah’s writings.
    I hope your son feels better and you enjoy the weekend!

  8. thisismeandfood

    I recently had a pecan pie cake bar/slice in a coffee shop and have been drooling about them since!
    Do you by any chance have the ingredients in cake mix?? I’m going to google now to see how I can improvise because I really want to try making these!!

    1. tonette joyce Post author

      We’ll see if Sarah has any better idea but I should think that this would work for this recipe:
      3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (or 31/3 cups cake flour)
      2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
      1 tsp. salt
      2 cups granulated sugar
      mix or sift together then add:
      1 1/2- 2 tsp. Vanilla extract with the other ingredient

      Thanks for your interest and Happy Baking!

  9. Tessa

    Yummy! I have already figured out what I am going to do with the remaining 3/4 box of cake mix…. make 3 more batches, of course!


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