by Betty Rosbottom

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Bars

For the holiday that more than any other is associated with food and feasting, I've got a delicious new pumpkin dessert to add to my menu. Several weeks ago, while discarding some old files, I came across a hand written recipe for pumpkin pie bars that a student had given me more than 20 years ago. Somehow it had been tucked away and left undiscovered until my cleaning frenzy.

The recipe turned out to be a real treasure. The bars consist of a butter-rich pastry layer (with an unusual addition of oats), a delectable spiced pumpkin filling, and a streusel-like topping of pecans, butter and brown sugar. You can bake these confections a day ahead, and cut them into 12 large bars or 24 small squares. If you want to be indulgent (and who doesn't at Thanksgiving?), serve these sweet treats mounded with dollops of whipped cream

The note that accompanied the recipe said that these bars had been a Thanksgiving tradition for this student's family for many years. After November 26th, I think they'll be part of my annual offerings as well!

Wendy's Pumpkin Pie Bars


1 cup flour

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus extra for the baking pan, chilled and diced


1 (1-pound) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 1/2 cups half and half

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


2/3 cup finely chopped pecans

2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

1 cup heavy cream, whipped for garnish, optional

For crust, arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit and butter the paper. Place flour, oats and sugar in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add butter and pulse until soft, crumbly dough forms. Press evenly over bottom of baking pan. Bake until crust is golden and firm, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, but retain oven temperature.

For filling, in a large mixing bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, half and half, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves until all ingredients are blended well and mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until mixture is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven but retain oven temperature.

For topping, mix together pecans, sugar and butter, then sprinkle over the pumpkin filling. Return to oven and bake until nuts are golden and crisp, 20 minutes or longer. Cool to room temperature. Cut into 12 large bars or 24 small squares. (Can be prepared 1 day in advance; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes or longer before serving.)

If desired, serve with a scoop of whipped cream Yields 12 large bars or 24 small squares.

Betty Rosbottom is a cooking school director and author of "Sunday Soup," Chronicle Books



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