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4 Time Winner

Pumpkin Bars Tested Recipe

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Pumpkin Bars Recipe

I love Pumpkin Pie. So much so that it is a year round dessert in my home. That is why I just had to make these Pumpkin Bars when I found, and adapted, this recipe from Rick Rodgers' delicious Autumn Gathering cookbook. These bars combine a hazelnut shortbread crust with a rich and creamy pumpkin filling. They have all the trappings of a Pumpkin Pie yet they are made in a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan which makes them ideal for large gatherings. I like to dress them up with a piped rosette of whipped cream, and I will warn you, that eating one is just about impossible.  

Pumpkin Bars start with a hazelnut shortbread base, which means toasted hazelnuts are processed with flour until finely ground. This hazelnut flour is added to a beaten mixture of butter and sugar and you get a delicious tasting shortbread dough that needs to be pressed into a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) pan that has been lined with a large piece of aluminum foil that has been buttered and floured. The shortbread is pre-baked until set and the edges are lightly browned. Doing this step ensures that the spicy pumpkin filling will not soften the shortbread. The next step is to make the pumpkin filling which entails just a quick stir of all the ingredients in a large bowl. This is a rich filling consisting of eggs, pumpkin puree, heavy cream, spices, and brown sugar. Once made it is poured over the pre baked shortbread crust and then everything is baked until the filling is set and has a lovely sheen to it. Once the bars have been left to cool to room temperature, cut them into squares and, if desired, garnish with a piped rosette of cream. If not serving immediately, refrigerate until serving time. These Pumpkin Bars can be stored for up to three days in the refrigerator.
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Pumpkin Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom and sides of a lightly buttered 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan with a 22 inch (56 cm) long piece of aluminum foil that has been buttered and floured.

Hazelnut Shortbread: Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until brown and fragrant and the skins are starting to peel. Remove from oven, place the hot hazelnuts in a clean dish towel, roll it up, and let the nuts 'steam' for about five minutes. Then briskly rub the nuts to remove most of their skins. Set aside to let the nuts cool and then coarsely chop.

Place the chopped hazelnuts, flour, and salt in the bowl of your food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process the mixture until the hazelnuts are finely ground.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2 - 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly and firmly onto the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the shortbread is set and beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Filling: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla extract, spices, and salt and whisk to combine. Gradually stir in the cream. Pour the filling over the pre baked crust and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes, or until the filling is set in the center. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Run a knife around the inside edges of the pan. Lift the pumpkin bars from the pan by holding onto the edges of the aluminum foil. Place on a cutting board, peel back the aluminum foil, and cut into 32 bars. The bars can be covered and refrigerated up to three days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Garnish: Whip the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Place the whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with an open star tip and pipe a small rosette of cream on top of each pumpkin bar.

Makes 32 pumpkin bars.

Adapted From:

Rodgers, Rick. Autumn Gatherings. William Morrow. New York: 2008.

Hazelnut Shortbread:

1/2 cup (50 grams) raw unpeeled hazelnuts

1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar

>1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Filling:

2 large eggs

1 - 15 ounce can (425 grams) pure pumpkin (2 cups)

3/4 cup (165 grams) light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream

Garnish: (optional)

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar




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