fat free opinions on a food centric life

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Pepitas

Frozen Pumpkin Puree

If you’re someone who freezes food for later use, then you know there’s something to be said about how long food can be frozen and then used without sacrificing quality.  That would mean that the bones from last year’s something or other that are barely recognizable due to the accumulation of frost most likely need to be tossed.

But the two cups of fresh pumpkin I prepared last November, each carefully poured into its own bag, the air patiently pressed out, then frozen flat looked perfectly fine.  Bright in color, and not a hint of frost.  For about five seconds I imagined a whole new world of cooking up a storm of fresh items and then preparing them for the freezer.  And then I snapped out of it.

The food world on the Internet is aswirlin’ with pumpkin pies and mousse, and whoopie pies, soup, bread, and muffins, and since the idea of pumpkin pie is so yummy right now, but we wait until Thanksgiving to savor our first bite, I thought a compromise was in order.  I could have a somewhat pumpkin pie taste in a bar cookie.

Nice.  Very nice.  If you are someone who likes pumpkin pie but wishes there just wasn’t so much of that custard, then these are a lovely option.  Packing them up and sending them home with guests on Thanksgiving is quite a bit easier than sending pie slices, too!

Pumpkin Pepita Pie Bars

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
16 oz. fresh pumpkin puree
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 lg. eggs, beaten
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ginger
dash cloves
dash nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. pepitas
1/2 blanched sliced almonds

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Add the flour, cereal flakes, baking powder and only 1/2 tsp of the salt.  Mix until it resembles a coarse meal.  Measure out 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside.

Line a 10×15″ jellyroll pan with parchment and press the rest of the flour mixure evenly on the bottom of the pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or just beginning to turn golden.

While the crust is in the oven, mix the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, spices, and remaining 1/2 salt.  Spread over crust taken right from the oven.  In a small bowl, mix the reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture with the pepitas and almonds and sprinkle over the top and bake about 30 minutes or until set.  Cool on a baking rack and cut into small squares.  Store in the fridge.

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Notes:

  • These are a great alternative to pumpkin pie.  A dusting of powdered sugar or dollop of spiced cream is delicious and fancies it up a bit.
  • Pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for the spice mixture or altered to your liking.
  • Canned pumpkin can be used instead of fresh — NOT pumpkin pie filling.
  • The crust is delicious and is a mix of crunch and chewiness.
  • I love pepitas for lots of reasons and use them often when I bake, but a whole cup in these would be too much in my opinion.  Almonds work nicely with them. if pepitas are not available or you don’t care for them, then use any nut of your choice.
  • If you don’t like Kashi, or can’t find it, oatmeal works just fine, but Kashi is what gives the crust the lovely crunch.  Nice flavor, too.
  • These bars are very satisfying and not excessively sweet.  They could easily be cut into rounds or other shapes for variety.
  • Even though this doesn’t seem like a lot of cookies, the three of us enjoyed plenty,  I sent some off to my husband’s office, and there were still left-overs.  I’d say half the recipe and bake in an 8×8″ pan.

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