But they turned out totally awesome. I actually used a recipe (cheating? perhaps). Joy of Baking had an adapted recipe from Rodgers, Rick. Autumn Gatherings. William Morrow. New York: 2008.
In any case, they turned out pretty awesome. Here is their version of the recipe, with my notes in Purple:
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) raw unpeeled hazelnuts (I actually just used pre-chopped hazelnuts)
- 1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 – 15 ounce can (425 grams) pure pumpkin (2 cups)
- 3/4 cup (165 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream
Garnish: (optional – I used Cool Whip and put it in a self-made pipette)
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
Pumpkin Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the rack in the center of the oven. Line the bottom and sides of a lightly buttered 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan with a 22 inch (56 cm) long piece of aluminum foil that has been buttered and floured. Let me tell you, this step is soo important. I used a 9×9 and my pumpkin pie bites came out thicker but equally as delicious.
Hazelnut Shortbread: Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until brown and fragrant and the skins are starting to peel. Remove from oven, place the hot hazelnuts in a clean dishtowel, roll it up, and let the nuts ‘steam’ for about five minutes. Then briskly rub the nuts to remove most of their skins. Set aside to let the nuts cool and then coarsely chop. (If you want to speed up this process, just get some pre-chopped nuts. Works just fine.)
Place the chopped hazelnuts, flour, and salt in the bowl of your food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process the mixture until the hazelnuts are finely ground.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly and firmly onto the bottom of the foil-lined pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the shortbread is set and beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.
Pumpkin Filling: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla extract, spices, and salt and whisk to combine. Gradually stir in the cream. Pour the filling over the pre baked crust and bake for about 30 -35 minutes, or until the filling is set in the center. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Run a knife around the inside edges of the pan. Lift the pumpkin bars from the pan by holding onto the edges of the aluminum foil. Place on a cutting board, peel back the aluminum foil, and cut into 32 bars. THIS IS HARDER THAN YOU THINK. Make sure you butter the pan properly at the beginning, and do not skip the aluminum foil.
The bars can be covered and refrigerated up to three days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Garnish: Whip the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form (again, I fast-forwarded this step and used Cool Whip). Place the whipped cream in a piping bag fitted with an open star tip and pipe a small rosette of cream on top of each pumpkin bar.