Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Well, I'm back to the real world! It's time to face up to all my responsibilities - work, papers, getting ready for the holidays, preparing for the baby, and BLOGGING! My husband and I went to the British Virgin Islands for 10 days. We chartered a sailboat for 8 of those days with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephew. It was a good time - but it was harder than I thought it would be to be on boat for so long. It was definitely nice to get away and enjoy some tropical weather and sunshine. Thanksgiving fell while we were on vacation. We had the option of spending $40/person for a Thanksgiving buffet at a restaurant on Virgin Gorda, but considering that we had already spent so much money on food and water (bottled water is $3), we decided to pass. We ate dinner at the pub in the Bitter End. Greg and I shared a tropical pizza and a chickpea salad and for dessert we had a virgin Pina colada! Needless to say, I did kind of miss eating my favorites like stuffing and pumpkin pie. My parents picked us up from the airport at 12:30 AM Wednesday, and my mom brought us some leftover turkey, stuffing, red potatoes, and pumpkin loaf cakes. On Wednesday night, Greg and I ate turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes for dinner and had the pumpkin loaf cake for dessert. So we didn't totally miss out. But I was craving more pumpkin, so I decided to go ahead and make some pumpkin pie bars on Thursday morning. I made them before I left town and loved them so much, and because I love them so much I thought I would share the recipe with you. The pumpkin pie bars have a delicious sweet and buttery crust and they are filled with pumpkin and heavenly spices - then topped with some reserve crust mixture and coconut. Yummy!

Recipe for Pumpkin Pie Bars 

For the crust
1 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup of old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup of almonds
12 ounces of very cold unsalted butter chopped into small pieces (put in freezer for about 15 minutes before using)

For the filling
2 cups of canned pumpkin puree
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg

For topping
Reserved crust mixture
Sweetened shredded flake coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9 x 9 square pan.

Put the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oats, and almonds into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse for a few seconds to incorporate. Scatter the butter pieces over the mixture. Pulse for several seconds until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pour some of the crust mixture into the prepared pan. Use your hands to press down the crust evenly. You should have plenty of reserve crust mixture, but make sure you have at least 1 1/4 cups. Set aside reserved crust mixture. Place pan in oven and cook for about 15 minutes.

While crust is cooking, put the pumpkin, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and spices into a large bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium-high speed to mix ingredients until smooth and well incorporated (about 3 - 5 minutes). Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust. Top with the reserved crust mixture and then top with coconut. Place back in the oven and cook for 25 - 30 minutes. Allow it to cool completely at room temperature, and then cover and refrigerate. Refrigerate for a couple hours before cutting and serving. Makes about 16 servings. Serve with homemade whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe Adapted from: Joy the Baker, originally from Kraft recipes