By Mandy Simon
Last year I became obsessed with making lemon bars and, after getting a little cocky, I started to improvise and made clementine bars. This fall, with a pumpkin carving party looming, I wondered if I couldn’t apply the bar rule to pumpkin pie. I figured it’d be easier to feed 15 or so people with bars than a pie. Plus, who doesn’t want a nice little piece of pumpkin pie that fits right in the palm of your hand? Idiots, that’s who.
There were a baking time adjustments, though. For one, I didn’t pre-bake the crust for as long as the recipe called for. I also wanted to cut down on the time the filling was in the oven given it would be covering a larger area and would obviously much thinner than it would be in a pie dish.
For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes (I baked it for about 13 minutes), until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling:
3 large eggs
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 1 – 15 ounce can (425 grams) pure pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
(I threw in a splash of vanilla extract – your call)
In a large bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture over the pre-baked crust and bake for about 25 minutes (check the bars after 15 minutes or so). The filling should be firm around the edges and slightly moist in the center. A knife inserted about 1 inch from side of pan will come out almost clean.
For added deliciousness, I whipped the rest of my heavy cream. If I wasn’t feeling kind of lazy, I would’ve thrown in some instant espresso powder to make it a little more special but whatever.
In the end, I probably would encourage anyone doing this to bake the crust for the full 20 minutes. But, that said, the bars were a hit and I’ll likely make them at least once more before the end of the year.