Pecan speckled graham cracker crust and perfectly toasty pumpkin filling make these Pumpkin Pie Bars an easy alternative to traditional pumpkin pie with all the flavor and less fuss!
This year is unusual, to say the least, and holidays are looking more different than ever before. Since we are branching out on our idea of what normal looks like, I'm using this year to change things up a bit and I make no apologies for keeping things as simple as possible. I've been working on this recipe for a while to get the texture and crust to filling ratio just right, and I think it'll be a great option for a scaled-down version of Thanksgiving festivities.
Let's talk about crust...
This recipes makes one 8-inch square pan of pumpkin pie bars, and depending on how big you cut them, you could get anywhere from 9 to 16 servings, and if you chill the bars for a while after baking, they'll slice up perfectly! The pecans in the graham cracker crust add a subtle bit of crunch and toasty flavor, while still being a crowd-pleaser (my toddlers LOVE this crust!). Bonus points that it's much less intimidating to make than a traditional pie crust, and makes for a fun project for the kids to help with.
About that toasty filling...
While the recipe will work without the toasting step, I beg of you to just try it. It only takes five minutes and the difference in flavor and texture is so worth it! Just heat the pumpkin puree in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, for a few minutes until it starts smelling toasty. No need to let it cool before using it to make the filling.
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Pumpkin Pie Bars
Simple to make, but complex in texture and flavor. The perfect way to get your pumpkin pie fix with less fuss! Pecan graham cracker crust delivers great texture and flavor without making a traditional pie crust.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 43 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 58 minutes
- Yield: 9-16
- Category: Dessert
For the Crust-
9 full size graham crackers (137g or about 1 ½ cups of crumbs)
½ cup chopped pecans
5 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
generous pinch of salt
For the Filling-
1 cup (250 g) pumpkin puree
½ cup (110g) dark brown sugar
¾ cup (170g) heavy cream (evaporated milk will work too)
1 large egg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch black pepper
Whipped cream, for serving
Prepare the filling-
Toast the pumpkin: In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the pumpkin puree over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
Transfer toasted pumpkin puree to a medium mixing bowl and whisk in dark brown sugar and cream, followed by egg and vanilla (be sure to add the cream before the egg so the warm pumpkin doesn't scramble the egg). Whisk to combine. Add cornstarch, whisking until very smooth, followed by cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour, up to overnight, to allow flavors to meld.
Make the crust-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large zippered storage bag, crush the graham crackers and pecans together using a rolling pin or by hand until very fine crumbs form.
Transfer crumbs to mixing bowl. Add dark brown sugar, melted butter, and salt, mixing until all crumbs have absorbed butter evenly.
Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Transfer crust mixture to the prepared pan. Spread the crumbs evenly in the bottom of the pan, using fingers to press firmly to create an even, firm crust.
Bake crust for 8 minutes until just golden. Remove from oven. Leave oven on.
Add filling to pre-baked crust (no need to let the crust cool), spreading evenly and smoothing the surface with a spatula.
Bake filled crust for 30-35 minutes until center does not jiggle when gently shaking pan.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 1 hour before serving. This allows for easier slicing, but also the best texture.
Serve with whipped cream if desired.
These Pumpkin Pie Bars keep well for several days if covered tightly and refrigerated.
Keywords: pumpkin pie bars, graham crust, easy Thanksgiving dessert
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