Sometimes when I have a crowd to feed, either for a football party or holiday dinner, it is easier to serve and transport a bar type of dessert. This dessert is a cross between pumpkin pie and caramel pumpkin cheesecake. If you have a crowd to feed try these bars. I think you’ll approve!
Pumpkin Caramel Bars
2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped toasted pecans (toasted in 350ºF) oven for 5 minutes)
One 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 ounce) solid pack pumpkin (not pie filling)
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Make Crust: In a large bowl combine the first 4 ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in oatmeal and toasted pecans. Press half into a greased13 X 9 inch baking pan. Reserve the other half to sprinkle over filling. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
Make Filling: While crust is baking make filling. In the bowl of a mixer, beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and caramel until smooth. Scrape down sides, add eggs and mix on low speed. (Why eggs last? The eggs will cause the spices not to incorporate in the filling- you can end up with dots of spices encased in egg).
Assemble: Pour filling on top of hot crust. Spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining half of crust on top of filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Best when served the day they are baked.
Published in The News and Neighbor on November 16, 2013