Have you ever wanted to make pumpkin pie for a crowd, but not wanted to make a bunch of pies? These pumpkin pie bars are just what you're looking for. This recipe makes enough for 15 people to have a big slice this Thanksgiving.
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You don't need anything fancy to make these delicious pumpkin pie bars! Let's talk about the key ingredients for this easy fall dessert.
- Pumpkin Puree: Canned pumpkin puree has a lower water content than homemade, so that's what I used for this recipe. Make sure you're not using pumpkin pie mix, as that isn't pure pumpkin puree.
- Evaporated Milk: Since evaporated milk is creamy and lower in fat, this is the traditional choice for making pumpkin pie, but you can use regular milk or heavy cream if you need to substitute.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: I like to make my own pumpkin pie spice so it tastes really fresh and adds lots of aromatic fall flavors to these bars.
How to Make
Gather the ingredients for the filling. You'll need pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, 2 large eggs, granulated sugar, salt, and pumpkin spice. (Make sure you have 15 ounces (425g) of pastry, either homemade or store bought, as well.)
Pour all the ingredients for the filling into a large mixing bowl.
Whisk thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined. At this point, if you're not using the filling right away, cover it and refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
Line a 9x13-inch cake pan with pastry, pressing it into all the corners. Trim the edges so it goes 1 inch up the side of the pan; use a clean ruler to help you make a straight cut. Prick all over the base with a fork, then chill for 10 minutes.
Spread a sheet of parchment paper on top, making sure it goes into the corners and up the sides. Fill the shell with dried beans and bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and bake for 10 minutes. This step is called blind baking, and it prevents the pastry from bubbling up.
Note: I did not do the blind baking for the photos, as I did not realize at first that it was necessary.
Pour the filling into the baked crust.
Carefully put the pan in the oven and bake at 375 F for 35 minutes, until the center jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken.
Please note that the funny looking dents in the bars below are caused by the pastry bubbling up as it bakes. I did not blind bake my shell for the photos, and that's why it happened. Please blind bake it to eliminate this problem.
Once they are baked, let the pan cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate the bars for at least 1-2 hours. This will make them much easier to slice. To cut the bars into 15 pieces, do three cuts from the short side and five cuts from the long side.
Extra scraps can be re-rolled and cut into decorative shapes with fall cookie cutters - size 1 ½" to 2 ¾". Bake them on a small cookie sheet at 400 F for about 10 minutes. Use these fall inspired shapes to decorate each one. These Wilton cookie cutters were purchased from Michaels or Joann's, but you can buy them on Amazon.
Decorate each slice with piped whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice. Enjoy!
They taste just like pumpkin pie. They have a crisp pastry base and a creamy custard filling flavored with fall spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice). Serve them with whipped cream, mini leaf cutouts, and a sprinkle of spice, and you'll be in autumn dessert heaven!
They are done when the center jiggles just a bit when the pan is shaken. Mine was done after 35 minutes of baking at 375 F.
It will crack on top when it is overbaked. Next time, make sure that the filling has a slight wiggle in the middle when you shake the pan. If it doesn't wiggle at all, that means it's overcooked. Feel free to cover up any cracks with whipped cream, and no one will know the difference.
Yes, they should be refrigerated, since they contain eggs and milk. Store them in a single layer and tightly covered with plastic wrap to keep out odors. The bars will keep very well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Keep things simple and just slice and and serve, or get fancy and garnish with whipped cream and other goodies. The bullet points below outline how I like to decorate the bars.
- Cut in the bars in 15 slices. This is enough for everyone to have a good-sized piece.
- Pipe whipped cream in a mound on top of each slice.
- Decorate by putting a baked pastry leaf or acorn on an angle on the whipped cream.
- Sprinkle with a little bit of pumpkin spice.
Can you freeze them?
Yes, you can freeze them. Just make sure they are completely cooled or chilled from the fridge, then seal them in a single layer in a zip-top freezer bag. Freeze for up to 1 month. Note that the pastry may separate from the crust for the pieces along the sides or corners of the pan.
- Use homemade pastry for the best flavor and texture.
- Pre-bake the pastry to prevent it from bubbling up as the bars bake.
- Whisk up the filling and keep it in the fridge until needed.
- When are they done? The center should jiggle slightly when shaken.
- Let the bars cool completely and refrigerate them for at least 1-2 hours before slicing.
- Make it look pretty by decorating with mini fall leaf shapes and piped whipped cream.
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Easy Pumpkin Pie Bars Recipe
Pre-Baking the Crust
- Roll the pastry into a large rectangle that's ⅛ inch thick. Put it inside of a 9x13-inch cake pan, pushing it into all the corners. Trim off the excess so it goes 1 inch up the sides of the pan. (If desired, re-roll the offcuts and cut out mini leaves and acorns and bake them for 10 minutes at 400 F. These are good decorations.)
- Prick the base all over with a fork and chill for 10 minutes in the fridge or freezer.
- Crumple up a large piece of parchment paper and spread the paper inside of the pastry, then fill it with dried beans.
- Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment paper and beans and bake for 8-10 minutes longer, until it is pale golden around the edges.
- Lower the oven temperature to 375 F.
- Whisk all the filling ingredients together until smooth, then pour into the shell.
- Bake at 375 F for 35 minutes, until the filling jiggles only slightly in the middle when it is shaken.
- Let them cool completely on a wire rack, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before slicing.
- Slice with a sharp knife. Decorate each slice with whipped cream, a baked cutout of a leaf or acorn, and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice.
- Make your own pastry for the best flavor and texture.
- Blind bake the crust to prevent it from bubbling up as the bars bake.
- When are they done? The center should jiggle slightly when shaken.
- Let them cool completely and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before slicing.
- Decorate the bars with mini fall leaf shapes and piped whipped cream.