Every once in a while, a recipe deserves a re-do. I originally posted this recipe in the Fall of 2008, just a few months into the life of my blog. I was trying to figure out my photography style. I was trying to figure out what a dang blog was. I was trying to find my voice on the internet. I was trying my hardest not to be a hot-mess.
I decided that this dish is just too good to suffer from hot-mess-ed-ness. Hot-mess-ed-ness is a real word (mostly because it’s a real thing that happens). The recipe has a mostly infallible list of ingredients that includes pumpkin and cream cheese. These are two great ingredients that in combination are utterly lovely and you know… festive! It has taken me almost four years to realize that these bars was missing a certain sort of… greatness. I’ve figured it out. As is the case in improving most things in life.. we’re going to need more crust. More dang crust!
These bars start with a variation of shortbread crust. What’s so divine about this situation is that the crust is both a press-in bottom and a crumble topping.
It starts with great ingredients that include (but are not limited to): brown sugar, old-fashioned oats, and pecans.
All of the dry ingredients are tossed together in a bowl, and then we have to deal with the butter.
Dealing with butter is one of my very favorite pastimes.
I just use my fingers to bring this crust together. Quick fingers to smash and break up the butter into little flakes and pea-sized bits. This is as far as things should go.
Two cups (or so) of the shortbread crust are reserved, the rest is pressed into a square baking pan. It’s really simple (and incidentally, super satisfying).
A good chilling in the fridge will set the crust and crumb just right while the filling is made.
Cream cheese meets pumpkin! These things will become a thick and creamy spiced bar filling. There is a trick to this batter… there’s always a trick. Cream cheese is thicker than pumpkin. For this reason, cream cheese needs to be super soft and beat in the mixer prior to adding the pumpkin, sugar, and eggs. This will prevent the cream cheese from being frustratingly chunky.
Oh… and if the cream cheese should happen to get frustratingly chunky, the whisk attachment on a mixer works miracles.
Creamy filling topped with shortbread crumb topping. Nothing is wrong with this scene. Nothing at all…
Welcome to the land of the crunchy and the creamy. Welcome to the land of the festive and the spiced. These bars have some really good proportions. The crust to filling to topping ratio is spot on. They’re smooth and creamy with crunch from the pecans and a hearty oat crumble. I love to serve these bars cold. Pumpkin pie is totally best served cold, served with extra cold vanilla ice cream.
Ps. Another Fall staple: Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread. No softened butter or eggs necessary. It’s a secret weapon, for real.