pumpkin pie bars


I am not a recipe developer.  I have this blog not because I ever want to write a cookbook, but because I wanted to write about the food I was making and I wanted to challenge myself to find new recipes I love.  I wanted a collection of recipes that I know I can go to when I have no ideas for dinner or when I have to bring a dessert to family dinner or when we have some occasion for brunch.  Because Smitten Kitchen is great and all, but every time I click the random button, half the recipes that come up have either onions or tomatoes.

So I am here less to write recipes, and more to write about them.

Sometimes though, I get an idea for something and I can’t find a recipe for it.  Sure, there are similar recipes around the internet or in my cookbooks, but they’re not quite what I’m looking for, and so I have to take matters into own hands.  Which is how these pumpkin pie bars came about.  I wanted to be able to eat pumpkin pie, except more in the format of lemon squares or cheesecake bars.  I wanted to casual-ize pumpkin pie so that we can eat it for dessert on a weekday before Thanksgiving.  I wanted a bar with a thick shortbread like crust, but with a top half that is an exact replica of pumpkin pie, except as a whole, it isn’t a pie.

And so I came up with these: the crust adapted from various places around the internet; the filling a version of my favorite pumpkin pie ever, changed just a bit for a different flavor and because I don’t think I’m actually allowed to share it with you here.  These turned out just a smidge different than I expected.  I was hoping for a bar that you could pick up and eat with your fingers, but instead we have something that really needs a plate and a fork.  But I think that’s ok here, because the flavors are exactly perfect and the texture of the crumbly crust against the smooth pie filling seem like a match too good to fiddle with further.

So I’ll leave you with these: our favorite fall dessert in a format you can make for an October dinner without feeling like you’re trying too hard or wishing for Thanksgiving too early.

Pumpkin Pie Bars
crust adapted from recipe.com, pie from elsewhere

Edit 9/10/15: I had the butter measurement listed as 2 sticks, but have received some feedback that that is not working for people and I believe it was a typo.

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Wait Time: 2 hours

Serves 12-16

For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Tiny pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon molasses

For the filling:
2 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (12 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons orange liquor
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a square 8 inch baking dish and set aside.
2. Begin with the crust.  In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Stir to combine.  Then add the butter and molasses and use a pastry blender to the cut the butter into the dry ingredients, working until the the mixture is crumbly but sticks together.
3. Press the crust into an even layer in the bottom of the greased baking dish.  Pierce holes all over it with a fork.  Bake for about 10 minutes, just to set the crust ever so slightly.
4. Then make the filling.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until they are light and frothy.  Then at the pumpkin and mix it in.
5. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar,  salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Stir to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
6. Add the sweetened condensed milk, orange liquor, and vanilla extract.  Mix until the filling is smooth.
7. Pour the filling over the par-baked crust.  Bake for 1 hour, until the filling is set (does not jiggle when you shake the pan).  Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, and then refrigerate to chill (about 1 hour).  Serve chilled.

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