Today was the first cool (ok, cool-ish) day of the fall out in my neck of the woods and it seemed like the perfect excuse to bring out a fall favorite: pumpkin pie. I love the spicy sweet taste of pumpkin pie, and the smooth texture of a well-made one. Last year, I came up with a chocolate variation on my pumpkin pie that was a big hit with me and my family, so it was the first batch I decided to go with this fall.
I baked this pie up in bar form, rather than as a standard round pie. It still has the same rich, satisfying filling to it, but it is a bit easier to make and a lot easier to serve to a group. It is also very easy to transport, so you might want to consider it as an option for a holiday potluck. The crust is a shortbread type that is pressed into the pan and baked to set it up. This type of crust is very easy to put together and requires no special ingredients, so while a graham cracker crust can easily be adapted to work for this pumpkin pie format, there is no need to keep grahams on hand or to run to the store to pick them up before baking.
The crust worked out very well with the chocolate pumpkin filing and was a nice change from a graham cracker or pastry crust. It was light and very tender, a great contrast for the richer filling. It was also very sturdy, so the bars are easy to eat out of hand and do not require a knife and fork.
As always, I really like to use my Baker’s Edge pan to bake bars and bar cookies, so I used it for this batch of pumpkin pie bars. A 9×13-inch baking pan is a good substitution for this pan, although since the filling will be spread out a bit more in a rectangular pan, you will want to check it a few minutes early, just to be on the safe side.
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Bars
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Filling:
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 – 15-oz. can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk (low fat is fine)
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or used the Baker’s Edge).
Begin by making the crust.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into prepared pan and bake for 15-17 minutes.
While the crust bakes, make the filling.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk until slightly foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in all the remaining ingredients, except the milk, and beat until smooth. Then whisk in the milk, trying to keep the bubbles in the mixture to a minimum.
When the crust is done, pull it out of the oven and carefully pour the pumpkin pie filling over the still-hot crust. Return the pan to the oven. Bake for an additional 24-28 minutes, until pumpkin filling is set.
Cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving.
Bars should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.
Makes 20 bars.