Grease an 8 x 8 pan with butter and sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 /2 cup of chopped pecans. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Melt the butter.
Combine the milk and corn syrup in a bowl. Heat in the microwave or on the stove until lukewarm. Stir to dissolve the corn syrup.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In another bowl add the egg yolks to the brown sugar and whisk until light in color, about two minutes.
Add the water and melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and whisk again. Add the flour and mix until smooth.
Whisk the milk and vanilla extract mixture into the batter mixing until smooth.
Add the egg whites gradually, slowly using your whisk to combine them into the batter. If some egg whites are still visible that's okay.
Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the rest of the pecans over the surface of the cake.
Place in the oven for about 50 minutes.
Let cool before cutting into squares and drizzling with caramel sauce (optional)