2 years ago

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Maple Whipped Cream

It’s like pumpkin pie without the fuss! A must-try fall dessert recipe from Twin Cities food blogger greens & chocolate.

Now that it’s October, I’m officially declaring it pumpkin season.  

Even though I bake with pumpkin a LOT during the fall months – making countless batches of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin you-name-it – it’s been years since I baked a pumpkin pie. You know, the original pumpkin treat which began all the pumpkin hype. The pumpkin pie is like the #PSL’s great-great grandma.

The thing is, pumpkin pie seems to have only one day of the year when it’s appropriate, and that’s Thanksgiving. I wanted to make something that was pumpkin pie-like but a little more acceptable all fall long.

Not only do these bars fit in any day of the pumpkin season, but they also seem less fancy and much easier than pie. To me, it’s a relief to not have to mess with making the pie crust edge pretty. I suppose my lack of trying isn’t doing anything to refine my pie crust skills, but if there’s a way to get around it, count me in. So, bars it is!

The crust of these bars is an all-butter pie crust, keeping them essentially identical to a traditional pumpkin pie. To jazz the bars up a bit, I made a lightly sweetened maple whipped cream topping that complements the pumpkin spices perfectly.

Speaking of those pumpkin spices, I have to say that in the two times that I tested these bars, the spices are what I played around with. The first time I used a jar of pumpkin pie spice, and I just wasn’t blown away by the flavor. It made me think that maybe that’s why some people don’t like pumpkin pie – it lacks flavor. The second time I used my own combination of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, and the results were much better!

The second time around I also set aside about ½ cup of the crust dough and added little leaf and pumpkin cutouts to the edges. It was a cute touch that added a little fall flair, but definitely not necessary.  

Now, let the pumpkin baking commence!  

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Maple Whipped Cream

Makes one 9×13 pan, about 12-15 bars
Preparation time: 2 hours (includes 30 minute chilling time for the crust dough)

Ingredients
For the crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup ice-cold water

For the pumpkin pie filling:
2 (15-ounce) cans pumpkin purée
2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt

For the maple whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
¼ cup pure maple syrup
Extra ground cinnamon, for garnish

Directions

To make the crust:

  1. Place flour, butter, sugar and salt into a large food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. 
  2. While processor is running, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until a ball of dough forms. Shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (Tip: the dough can be made up to 2 days in advance.)

To make the pumpkin pie:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F. 
  2. Combine all pie filling ingredients in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until well combined.  
  3. Press crust dough into the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (Note: I removed about ½ cup of the dough to roll out and make cutout leaves for decoration on top of the bars. I added them to the edge of the pan 30 minutes into the baking time, so they did not sink into the filling. You can skip this part and use all the dough for the crust; it will just be slightly thicker.)
  4. Bake crust in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Pour pie mixture over baked crust.  
  6. Bake another 50-60 minutes, until edges are set and filling is firm. Let cool completely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make maple whipped cream:

  1. Place heavy cream and maple syrup in a large bowl with electric mixer.  
  2. Beat on high until medium peaks form.
  3. Dollop on top of pumpkin pie bar slices.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon for garnish, if desired. Enjoy!