As autumn continues to unfold, it brings with it, the cool crisp air that just screams out “Bake Something! Bake Something!” The temperatures start to drop and the sudden urge to warm up the house with cozy home baked goodness and wonderful smells, suddenly starts to rise. Now that summer has finally left, the chill autumn air excites. You find yourself needing blankets in the middle of the night. Sweaters and jackets when you leave the house. Turning on the oven more and more, as an excuse to heat up the place. Of course if you live in Southern California, you know that this isn’t the case. With temperatures reaching nearly hundred in the middle of October, we can’t help but wonder, “Has summer really left us?” For us Californians, we still have those sweaters hanging in the closet and the ovens turned off for the greater part of the week. But if you’re lucky enough to get those brief autumn moments California throws at us, then you know you must enjoy it to the fullest. Now, if you’re somewhere in the East Coast and the leaves have turned color, the weather has dramatically changed to the perfect crispiness, and bushels and bushels of apples are raining down from the trees, well then….don’t tell me about it. Because I don’t care one bit about those things. I like being barbecued in the sunny Cali heat. I like feeling like its Summer 2.0 all over again. So there.
Regardless of whatever the weather likes to indicate, it is autumn, and it is in full swing. There’s something about autumn that just transforms the mood of everyone. It’s the beginning of the best cooking and baking season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and well into winter and Christmas. Its the one time you can cook and cook and eat and eat without feeling guilty because we tell ourselves “Oh its the holidays. I don’t eat like this all the time!” We automatically start to feel a hundred million times better. But it isn’t just the cooking and good food; autumn has the power, filled with the magical ability, to bring people together. Or maybe its just the holidays that does that. Anyhow, it does, however, have the power to produce pumpkins. And as we all know pumpkins are the main stars of fall. This wonderfully sweet and diverse vegetable finds its way in all kinds of recipes during this season. Pumpkin pie bars are the perfect treat if you want all the great taste of pumpkin pie, but on the go.
For this recipe, I roasted a couple pumpkins and made my own puree. If you don’t want to deal with (this simple process, which makes all the difference) making your own, or if you have a couple cans of pumpkin puree laying around (as I always do) then by all means use that.
But if you want to be brave, creative, and take this recipe over the edge, roast the pumpkins yourself.
These are pie pumpkins, and they are perfect for roasting and baking with. They have a much sweeter flavor and make the best puree.
Cut them in half, lengthwise.
Go ahead and scoop out the seeds, I give you permission to.
Be sure to remove the stringy bits as well.
Once you’ve scooped out all the seeds and stringy strings….place on a foil lined pan (might as well make clean up easier) skin side up.
Roast the pie pumpkin halves in a preheated 370 degree oven for about 40 minutes to an hour, until soft and tender.
When the pumpkins are done, allow to slightly cool before handling. Let’s think safety first. The kitchen isn’t the place to start getting careless.
Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Throw it into a food processor bowl.
Every last bit.
A couple beauty shots for you all.
I couldn’t help it.
Okay, so once you’ve scooped everything out. Puree the pumpkin until smooth, and it looks like canned pumpkin.
You might have to stop half way or periodically to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Set the pumpkin aside and reserve for later. Let’s work on the crust.
Start off with some good ol’ flour.
Finely chopped nuts. I used a combo of pecans and walnuts. Just because that’s all I had on hand. Well truthfully, I didn’t have enough of either so I just combined them to make it work.
Now add in some sugar.
Make way for the endless sugar waterfall in flavor town.
And next, because it isn’t sweet enough or maybe just because I like extra sugar in my things, lets add some brown sugar.
And of course nothing screams out autumn or goes better with pumpkin than Cinnamon.
Lots and lots and lots of cinnamon.
By now you should be aware of my fascination and love for all things cinnamon. So I like to go over board.
Give the dry ingredients a stir.
Turn on the mixer.
Let it combine.
Throw in some butter.
Some golden softened butter.
Some butter. Oh I’ve already said that.
Mix together until the mixture resembles course crumbs the size of peas.
If the mixer isn’t getting the job done right, by all means, please feel free to use your hands.
It will look just like a crumb topping, and should form a ball when you give the mixture a squeeze.
Give it a good squeeze…go ahead. No one is looking.
Pour half of the crumb dough thing into a 9x13x2 rectangle baking dish.
My sneaky sister, actually came over one day and stole my 9×13 pan. When I went to go look for it for this recipe I couldn’t find it. I searched and searched everywhere. Puzzled, I really thought I was losing my mind. “The pan couldn’t have walked out by itself” I thought to myself. And then like a speeding bullet, it hits me. “Jennie!!!” And wouldn’t you know it she did have it.
Thinking on my feet, I had to make it work, I pulled out two pie dishes. So my pumpkin pie bars aren’t so much bars as they are rectangles.
Its okay, they still tasted good. I fixed the problem.
Although, Jen, when you read this, I’d like you to know that I want my dish back you thief!!
Anyhow, pour half of the mixture into the pan or pie dishes (in my case).
Give it a good pat down with your hands.
When the crust is ready, set aside as we work on the pumpkin pie filling.
Grab that fresh pumpkin puree we made earlier.
Pour it into a mixer. You need 2 cups of pumpkin puree, depending on the size of your pie pumpkins, you might get a little over 2 cups, you can put the extra in an airtight container and leave it in the fridge for another time. Maybe some pumpkin pancakes or waffles in the morning?
I think that’s a smart idea.
Lets add our other ingredients!
Sweetened Condensed Milk Eggs Vanilla Extract
Nutmeg Cinnamon All-Spice
Salt Mix Mixed
Stop half way and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the bottom. Make sure everything gets mixed well together until smooth and creamy.
You know it was bound to happen. I’m sure you all were just waiting for him….probably thinking he wasn’t going to make an appearance today. But you were mistaken. He wanted to be fashionably late.
Once the filling has come together, pour into the prepared pan, or if you’re like me who was viciously robbed, into the prepared pie dishes.
Grab the reserved crumb topping.
Add a little flour and give it a stir.
Sprinkle the crumb topping liberally over the filling.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes until it is set and a toothpick, inserted in the middle, comes out clean.
Once golden brown and set, move to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. You can serve warm or chilled in the fridge.
I personally think it’s better cooled. Personal taste.
Once it has cooled and you are ready to serve, cut a slice. Again, my “bars” are triangular thanks to my sis who is a thief (just thought I’d throw it out there one last time). But if you use the 9×13 please do cut them into actual bars.
I like to sprinkle powdered sugar on each slice. I do it after I cut the bars, because the sugar could absorb and disappear later on from the moisture. Butter to do it after, fresh with each slice. Wait, did I just say butter….I meant better.
Sprinkle the edible sweet snow, to your heart’s content.
Yup, much butter. Oh there I go again. I guess I just have butter on the mind.
But anyhow, serve yourself a piece. Oh why not live a little and have two?!
Celebrate all the wonders that autumn has to offer. The next time you’re craving a fast and tasty pumpkin treat make these great pie bars. Have them cut and ready to go for whenever you’re on the run. They’re perfect for breakfast, snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dessert, an midnight snack…you get the point. They’re perfect. And if you’ve never roasted your own pumpkins and made puree, you have to try it, at least once in your life! It makes all the difference in the world, and you’ll feel really good eating these bad boys. Enjoy.
Pumpkin Pie Bars
- 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 Pie Pumpkins for 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
- 1 (14-ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon all-spice
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375. Rinse and dry two pie pumpkins. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the stems. Scoop out the seeds and stringy insides. Place on a foil lined baking sheet skin side up. Roast for about 40 minutes to an hour, until the pumpkin is soft and tender. Remove from oven and allow to slightly cool. Scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor until smooth. Reserve for later.
Lower the oven temperature to 350. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, nuts, sugars, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Reserve half of the mixture. Pat remaining mixture on bottom of ungreased 13×9 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, vanilla extract, remainging 1 teaspoon cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg and salt; mix well. Pour evenly over crust.
Combine reserved crumb mixture with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Enjoy.