Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Crumb Bars

Dessert squares are always a big hit with me because they're perfect for a get together. Everyone can just grab one and enjoy. You have your Brownies of course, and you also have your Lemon Bars and snacky sort of cake bars like Banana Bars or Easy Time Squares. With most of these, you just mix up a batter and bake. Sometimes it has a crust, sometimes you even spread it with frosting. Then you cut them into squares and you're good to go. Delish!
 But there's another formula that I LOVE. You have your crust and your filling, but then you use some of the crust to make the top crumble layer as well. Such is the case with the Peach Crumb Bars, and also the White Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal Squares. And that's exactly how you make this one too!
  Half of the crust goes on the bottom, pour the filling over it, then crumble the rest of the crust to make the crumbly topping. It's SO easy! Even a baking novice can handle this one. They're like little mini pumpkin pies with a crumb crust. Yum! If you don't have a 9x13 brownie pan, this is definitely the reason to buy one.
 Hope you'll give them a try!

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups (1 16oz can) pumpkin
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice*

Combine oats, flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the baking soda, and the butter; beat until mixture is crumbly. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture and press remaining mixture into a lightly buttered 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes.
Prepare filling. Beat filling ingredients until well blended and smooth. Spread filling over the crust; sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture. Return to oven and bake 25 minutes longer. Cool cpmpletely or chill then cut into bars.

*  Instead of buying pumpkin pie spice, you can easily make it yourself by combining 4 parts EACH of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, with 3 parts of ground allspice.
 If you're not a fan of pecans or walnuts, feel free to substitute any other nuts or simply omit them altogether.
I find it easier to remove large sections of the batch from the pan, and then cut them into bars on a cutting board with a large sharp knife. Then you'll get much neater prettier cuts.

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