pumpkin pie bars

when i returned to work in october, there were a few new faces. new students that started working with us for the quarter, a soon to start new staff member, and a researcher from italy. in the first week or two i was back, a few of us went out to lunch with our italian researcher to talk about his research in water footprinting and our life cycle assessment work. the conversation quickly became a lesson for all of us in the differences between our cultures. while we were enchanted with the thought of living in italy - the food, the clothes, the wine, all of it - he was quick to remind us how expensive everything is there and how cheap it is here. while talking about food and food customs during the holidays, one thing stuck with me: his family and friends told him he had to try pumpkin pie while he was here. to them, pumpkin pie is the quintessential american food of the holiday season. and they're exactly right.

while these bars aren't exactly pumpkin pie, they're a pretty good surrogate. they're portable and if you're anything like me, you're more likely to eat a bar on a weekday than a piece of pie. pie is saved for the holidays themselves.

pumpkin pie bars
adapted from kraft
1 hour, makes one 9x13 inch pan

for the crust:
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup oats
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

for the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
15 ounces (about 2 cups) pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  1. preheat your oven to 350F. line a 9x13 inch pan with aluminum foil and grease. set aside.
  2. make the crust by mixing the flour and sugar. cut in the butter, using your hands or a food processor, until the mixture resembles coarse sand. mix in the oats and pecans.
  3. press about half of the crust into the pan and bake for 15 minutes. reserve the other half of the crust mixture for the topping.
  4. while the crust bakes, make the filling. beat the sugar, cream cheese, eggs, pumpkin, and spices together until smooth. pour over the crust when its finished baking. 
  5. sprinkle the top with the other half of the crust mixture. sprinkle the white chocolate chips over top, if using.
  6. bake for 25 minutes and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. use the foil to transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. store bars in the refrigerator.


  1. Interesting about how Italians view our food...never thought pumpkin pie would be something so unique to us! These bars look fabulous....I love the white chocolate in them!

  2. Any suggestions for a nut-free crust? Thanks!

    1. I would replace the nuts with an equal amount of oats. The crust won't quite have the same crunch and flavor without the nuts, but it will be close.


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