I bought a can of pumpkin puree the other day. Actually, it was squash, but pumpkins are squash, and it’s all orange, so really, I see no difference.
And the squash version was forty cents cheaper. Crazy!
Anyway, this morning I was wondering what to make with it, and I’ve been on this fruit bar kick lately, so I thought maybe I could use the pumpkin in that.
But I didn’t just want to slap puree on top of the oat base, right? Who would eat that, besides the squirrels? I wanted it to taste like pumpkin pie. Mmmm…pumpkin pie. I needed a thicker, less watery, more flavorful mixture. And I wondered if I could find a recipe for pumpkin butter.
I made some slight changes, based on my own personal pumpkin pie flavor profile preferences, and it’s super easy to do. Start this first, then gather everything else and start making the bars.
First, just combine all your pumpkin butter ingredients in a pot:
That includes the puree, some water, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. (I didn’t have ground cloves, so I put in whole cloves and made a mental note to remove them before putting the butter on the bars. Of course…that mental note went missing….)
Mix everything together, then cook on medium low, stirring periodically, until the mixture has thickened. Mine took a little over an hour. When it’s thick enough, you should be able to drag a spatula along the bottom of the pan like this:
The butter should just stay in place and not slide right back into the middle.
Another test (or party trick), is to get a spoonful of the puree and then flip the spoon over so it’s upside down.
If the mixture remains in/on the spoon, it’s ready.
And really – the butter just stayed there inside the spoon. I took another shot from a different angle, just to show you.
At this point, you’re done with making the pumpkin butter. Just let it sit in the pot until you’re ready to use it.
Now, to make the bars…I changed the recipe a bit – reduced the oats, increased the pecans, added cinnamon, increased the whole wheat flour, decreased the all-purpose flour. I think that’s everything. Oh – yes, preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet (mine is 12 x 18 with a rim) with parchment. Leave a bit of an overhang along one side.
Combine the flours, sugars, salt and cinnamon in a stand mixer or food processer, then add your pieces of very cold butter. When the mixture is like wet sand, stir in the oats and pecans.
Press about 2/3 of this into your pan.
Bake for fifteen minutes.
And then add the pumpkin butter.
All of it.
Spread it evenly over the base…
Then top with all or most of the remaining oat/pecan mixture.
Pop the pan back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, remove the pan and let it cool for about fifteen minutes.
Loosen the edges with a thin, sharp knife, then, using the parchment overhang, slide the whole thing out of the pan and onto a cutting board or your countertop.
Let it cool another ten minutes if you like, then cut into bars.
I got 24 rectangles, but you can make them whatever size or shape you want. Place the bars on a rack and allow to cool completely.
Try to share them with other people. It’s the right thing to do, painful though it may seem.
Pumpkin Pecan Oat Bars
For the pumpkin butter:
1 15 oz can pumpkin or squash puree
½ cup water
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon cloves
For the bars:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 very cold sticks unsalted butter, each stick cut into 8 pieces
3 cups oats
1 ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
2 cups pumpkin butter
What to do:
~First, make the pumpkin butter:
1. Combine all pumpkin butter ingredients in a medium pot. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until mixture has thickened. If the butter is thick enough, run a spoon through it in your pan - if the mixture remains separated, the butter is ready. Another way to tell - you can scoop some up in a spoon, turn the spoon over, and the mixture won’t drip off. This will take anywhere from an hour to two hours.
~Make the bars:
2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a 12 x 18 inch rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Leave one edge of the parchment hanging slightly longer so you can pull on it when removing the bar.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer or a food processor, combine flours, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add butter, one stick’s worth of pieces at a time, and mix or pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Mix in the oats and pecans.
4. Spread about ⅔ of this mixture in your lined sheet pan and press it down firmly. Bake this for fifteen minutes. Then spread your pumpkin butter over the baked surface, and top with most or all of the remaining oat and pecan mixture. Bake for another fifteen minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool for about fifteen-20 minutes.
5. Slide a small, sharp knife blade along the edges of the pan to separate any of the pumpkin butter that might be sticking. Make sure all edges are loosened, then, carefully, grasp the overhanging parchment along one side and quickly slide the whole thing onto your counter top or a cutting board. Slice into bars, set on rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container or freezer.
Makes about 24 bars.
For a printable version of the recipe, you can click here: Printable Recipe