Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Best Things In Life Are Filled With Pumpkin

Pumpkin. The quintessential sign that fall is here. What used to be a Thanksgiving pie filling and a luminous Halloween decoration is now making its way into EVERYTHING- almost absurdly. Don't get me wrong, I love autumn and all it's pumpkin-y goodness, but what place does squash have in coffee and beer and...Pringles? After all, no one offers a butternut squash latte. Or a spaghetti squash lager. Because that would be gross, right? But pumpkin, the prize child of the harvest, gets special treatment. I think what happened was the pumpkin teamed up with his friends, sugar and cinnamon, and schemed their way into everything edible while simultaneously tricking the average American into thinking that their "pumpkin" goody was healthy. Oh, the conniving pumpkin...


Now that I've just ranted out against pumpkins, let me reiterate how much I love pumpkin- that it's, the pumpkin that has been mixed with sugar and cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, then baked within a buttery oatmeal cookie crust...Cue my latest creation (when I say "my" I mean someone else's recipe): Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars. If you're looking for an off-beat treat to bring to harvest party or reinvent Thanksgiving dessert, this is perfect. Perfect as a pumpkin should be. Happy fall!

Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

Mix together 1 1/4 cup each flour and oats, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and baking soda, and 1/2 cup each white sugar and brown sugar. Once incorporated, add 3/4 cup melted butter (unsalted, if possible) and 1 teaspoon vanilla (mix the vanilla into the butter, then add butter mixture to flour mixture). The final product should not be dry nor crumbly. You want it like a cookie dough, but not as sticky. Press half of this mixture into the greased pan and bake for 15 minutes.

While this is baking, mix together another 1/4 cup each white and brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon each ginger and salt, and a pinch of cloves. You could also use pumpkin pie spice if you have it (about 2 teaspoons). Next, add one whole egg and one egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Then, add a 15-oz can of pumpkin (plain pumpkin- not the pumpkin pie filling) and 1/3 cup of half and half or evaporated milk and mix until well combined.

Once your bottom cookie crust layer comes out of the oven, pour the entire pumpkin mixture on top, spreading evenly over the crust. Put right back in the over and bake for another 15 minutes. Then, remove and carefully sprinkle the remaining cookie mixture over the top of the pumpkin. You should have enough to completely cover the top. Return to the oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the cookie crust is golden and the center isn't jiggly.

This part is essential- cool for AT LEAST one hour at room temperature. This isn't a dessert that is better warm. If time permits, cool in the fridge for another hour (or overnight) for an even better consistency and taste. Top with whipped cream and maybe a dash of cinnamon if you really want to be a fancy-pumpkin-pants.

100% credit for the recipe goes to Cooking Classy, which I found via Pinterest.

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