Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall Festivities - Pumpkin Bars!

In honor of my previous post for Shake Shack and the super delicious Pumpkin Pie Oh My! I knew I wanted to bake something to bring into work with pumpkin.

Not content with pumpkin pie, I settled on a recipe I found for Orange Spice Pumpkin Bars with Brown Butter Frosting. Yum! For those who have never heard of a pumpkin bar, think of it as similar to lemon bar but with a pumpkin and fall flavor profile.

My coworkers were quite happy with my end results as were Travis and me! (Which makes me think about combining them with custard to make Pumpkin Bars Oh My!) I brought about a dozen into work and they were gone pretty instantly. Everyone particularly enjoyed how moist and dense they were and the hint of citrus in the bar itself.
The bars turned out moist and dense, tasting of pumpkin pie and cake and all things fall. The frosting was thick and creamy, almost like a sweet version of cream cheese- based frosting. They are perfect both as a special breakfast (I had one with a caramel macchiato from Starbucks at work, with my coworker having one with a latte) and as a dessert/snack. Not overly sweet, these bars really hit the spot and set up a great autumn mood.

All in all, a great 3 out of 3 JAMs due to the strong pumpkin flavor, complex hints of orange and spice, and the brown butter frosting.

The recipe is below, taken from Pillsbury's Fall Baking (with only a couple of subtle alterations):

Orange Spice Pumpkin Bars with Browned Butter Frosting

Bar Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (JAM note: could substitute 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp cloves)
  • 2 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (JAM note: canola works too)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
Bar Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a rectangular baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat bar ingredients with electric mixer on low speed, scraping bowl occasionaly, until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl. Spread batter evenly in pan
  3. Bake 23 - 27 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for about an hour.

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (JAM note: Cannot use margarine or other substitute as they do not brown the way butter can)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 to 4 tbsp milk
Frosting Instructions:

  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, heat butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until is light golden brown. (JAM note: Here the butter is liquid and starting to turn brown)(JAM note: Here the butter is nice and brown.)
  2. Once golden brown, remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
  3. Immediately spread frosting over cooled bars, refrigerate for about 15 mins or until set. Cut into rows. Can be stored cold or at room temperature.

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