I can’t believe Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Usually, I am dreaming up Thanksgiving desserts months in advance, but I have been so busy with school that I am just beginning to think about it. There are a couple of desserts that are givens every year, like cheesecake and apple pie, but beyond that I like to come up with new ideas. I know pumpkin pie can be very divisive. Most people seem to either love it or hate it. Personally, I’m a huge fan and I clearly couldn’t even wait another week to get my hands on a piece.
I’m all about traditional pumpkin pie, but I felt like spicing it up a bit and these are so insanely good that I don’t know if I’ll ever go back. I love how these are in bar form because you can pick a piece up with your hands and they just seem less formal than a true pie. If you serve your Thanksgiving desserts buffet style, bars are also a mess free way to still serve pie. To make the bars, I used my favorite cookie crust made out of crushed Nilla Wafers, but Graham Crackers or Gingerbread Cookies would also work really well too. I loved the Nilla Wafer/Pumpkin combination, but lets be real, Nilla Wafers would go well with just about anything.
The filling is based off of a classic pumpkin pie with the same consistency and fall flavors. Many pumpkin pie bar recipes include cream cheese in the filling, but I really wanted these to be very similar to a slice of pumpkin pie. My favorite part of these bars is by far the pecan streusel topping. I am normally not a fan of nuts in my baked goods, but I LOVE this topping. It adds the perfect crunch and extra brown sugary sweetness to every bite. I keep sneaking bites from the fridge and may or may not have had one for breakfast. If you are still looking for the perfect Thanksgiving dessert, this is an easy, festive and delicious recipe that all pumpkin pie lovers will go crazy for.
Pumpkin Pie Bars with Pecan Streusel Topping
Yield: 1 8″ x 8 pan (9 good sized bars)
- 1 1/2 cups Nilla Wafers crushed
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin
- 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. dark corn syrup (I used light corn syrup and it worked well too)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line an 8″ x 8 baking dish with parchment paper.
To make the crust: puree about 3/4 box of Nilla Wafers in a food processor until finely ground. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the cookie crumbs and add to a separate bowl along with the three tablespoons of melted butter. Stir to combine. Then press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Use your hands to press the mixture down evenly. Set the baking dish aside.
To make the filling: Combine everything, but the eggs and heavy cream in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Then add the eggs one at a time and finally add the cream. Whisk until combined, but be careful to not over mix.
Pour the filling into the baking dish with your prepared crust. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set and just barely jiggles when you move the baking dish.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and use your hands to thoroughly combine them. Sprinkle the topping over the cooked filling and return the dish to the oven at 350 degrees for another 8-10 minutes, until the top is bubbling and the pecans are fragrant.
Cool the bars completely and then store in the fridge until ready to serve.