If you've been asked to bring a dessert, this is easier to transport than a pie and has all the sweet holiday flavors we love.
Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche or slightly sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of minced crystallized ginger.
Make Ahead: The bars can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days in advance.
Servings: 24 bars
- For the crust
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts (see NOTE)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- For the filling
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees.
Use butter to lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Pleat a 22-inch-long piece of aluminum foil lengthwise to make a 9-inch-wide strip, then fit it into the pan like a sling, pressing the foil into the corners to line the bottom and 2 short sides of the pan (the foil will overhang the two short sides). Dust the exposed buttered sides lightly with flour, shaking out any excess.
For the crust: Combine the flour, toasted hazelnuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 20 seconds, until the nuts are ground to a powder; stop to tap down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Combine the 8 tablespoons of butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or use a hand-held electric mixer; beat on high speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is pale. Reduce the speed to low; add the flour mixture to make a soft dough. Press the dough evenly into the lined pan. Bake on the low rack for 15 minutes or until the crust just starts to brown around the edges.
Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a medium bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually whisk in the cream to incorporate well.
Transfer the partially baked crust to the stove top; pour in the filling, making sure it flows into the corners evenly. Return to the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until the filling is set in the center. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, then run a knife around the inside edges to release the pastry from the pan. Use the overhanging foil to transfer the slab to a cutting board. Cut into 24 bars.
(Alternatively, the pan can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Use the overhanging foil to lift the slab of pumpkin bars onto a cutting board and cut into 24 bars. Serve chilled or at room temperature.)
NOTE: Toast the hazelnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool before using.
Adapted from "Autumn Gatherings," by Rick Rodgers (William Morrow, 2008).
Tested by Amy Orndorff.
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