Monday, 27 September 2010

Fall is in the air!

Pin It Well... inasmuch as Fall can ever be in the air in a city where the default weather setting is grey...

But yes, the air has crisped, the trees are already turning brown and baring their branches, and school is starting up again.  And you know what that means: baking for an audience again!  Oh, and pumpkin.  Definitely, definitely pumpkin.

Specifically, pumpkin pie bars, the answer to the age-old question: how can I take my pumpkin pie with me on the go?  Because don't we all need a little pie-to-go in this rushing about, bustling, high-energy world (or at least city)?  Yes.  Yes we do.

For serious, this recipe is simply the  I made these bars for my first writing group of the year, and it was straightforward and drama free, and they went down a treat, if I do say so myself.  The folks over here don't really get a lot of pumpkin in their lives, for some ungodly reason; pumpkin pie is sort of an American delicacy, and in my opinion too often poorly represented.  But not my pumpkin pie!  Oh, dear me, no.  My family's pumpkin pie recipe is the best there is.  It's so good I won't eat anyone else's.  Sorry, people, but I have my standards.

So of course I couldn't make these bars exactly as the recipe stated.  I had to change the spices up and add a bit more brandy (that's the real secret– it cuts the sweetness of the pie and adds an extra kick of spice).  But beyond that, I followed the recipe pretty closely, and these babies turned out delish!  And even better, they packed up and traveled real nice for my 15 minute walk to class.  The only thing I'd change next time is probably to omit the topping.  After a few hours it got kinda soggy, not that that's stopped me eating half the pan... But still, I wouldn't repeat that (especially since I didn't use the butterscotch chips because I'm a purist anyway).

Pumpkin Pie Bars:
     Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.  Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil, making sure extra foil hangs over the ends for easy grabbing, then grease the foil.

     1 1/3 c flour
     1/4 c sugar
     1/2 c packed brown sugar

Cut in:
     3/4 c (170g) cold butter

Stir in:
     1 c oats
     1/2 c chopped pecans/walnuts

Reserve 1 cup of the flour mixture for topping (or don't, if you'd rather just have a custard bar with a crunchy bottom), and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the foil-lined pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

Beat in mixer (or with a wooden spoon):
     1 container plain cream cheese (225g or 8oz), softened
     1/2 c sugar
     3 eggs
     1 can pumpkin (12 oz)*
     1 tsp vanilla
     2 Tbsps brandy
     1 tsp ginger
     1 tsp cinnamon
     1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pour pumpkin mixture over crust, sprinkle with reserved topping (or don't) and bake 25 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in pan, then carefully lift foil out and cool on a rack.

*If you're based outside the US, canned pumpkin can be difficult to find.  I got mine at the Whole Foods in Camden, but you can also look online for specialty food stores.  Or make your own!

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