Pumpkin Pie Bars with Brown Sugar Meringue
Rather than bore you with my exuberance over the fact that its (already!) Fall again, I figured I’d give you my top 10 list of why Fall is so awesome.
1. Starbucks pumpkin spice latte is back…and I consume them as often as my wallet allows
2. Apple and pumpkin picking
3. Hot apple crisp
4. Pumpkin pie
5. Hiking to see the beautiful foliage
6. Hot apple cider and cider doughnuts
7. Chunky sweaters
8. Kids are back to school
9. Stepping on crunchy leaves
10. The absolutely perfect crisp weather
11. (one more for good luck) all the holidays are right around the corner!!
Yes, I do realize most of my list revolves around food 🙂
My absolute favorite of that list though is all the pumpkin. The only way to truly describe my love of pumpkin is just to confess that I am an out and out pumpkin addict. I’m happiest while drinking a pumpkin spice latte, baking a pumpkin pie in a big cozy orange sweater with a pumpkin spice candle burning in the background. It’s kinda bad…but in a really yummy way so I’m not willing to change.
These bars were born out of me attempting to “have fun” with traditional pumpkin pie. For me, I still prefer the plain pumpkin pie with its buttery crust and mounds of whipped cream but everyone else who tried these loved them! The base is a graham cracker crust with toasted pecans, filled with spicy pumpkin and topped with mounds of toasted brown sugar meringue. The only thing I definitely would change is instead of putting a layer of toasted pecans under the pumpkin I recommend sprinkling them on top afterwards so they don’t get soggy. But other than that these are fall in a bite. Nutty, pumpkin-y and spicy and a yummy alternative to plain pie if you’re not as plain jane as me 🙂
Pumpkin Pie Bars with Brown Sugar Meringue
Yields 9 servings
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 large egg whites, at room temperature, divided
1/2 cup pecans
3 large whole eggs
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed and divided
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
15 ounces of pumpkin puree
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half and half
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
For the crust: Line an 9 ×9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, with ends of paper extending over opposite sides of pan. Repeat with second piece of paper in opposite direction. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray liberally. I also spray each step to help keep the parchment paper in place. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl whisk the 3 whole eggs, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt until completely combined. Whisk in the pumpkin puree. Combine the milk and half and half and then stir into pumpkin mixture a 1/4 cup at a time.
4. Using just 1 of the egg whites, glaze the graham cracker crust with a pastry brush so its fully coated and place back in the oven for 1-3 minutes to dry and set the egg white. Once that is done, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees (F). Let the oven fully preheat and then pour the pumpkin batter over the crust and bake for 15 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 375 degrees (F) and continue baking for about 35 minutes or until the filling is set. Let the bars cool completely.
5. For the brown sugar meringue: In a medium size pot pour enough water to come up about an inch. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, reduce heat to keep the water at a slow simmer. In a very clean, dry, streak free metal bowl of a standing mixer place the remaining 3 egg whites and 3/4 cup light brown sugar. Clip a candy thermometer to the side and place the bowl over the simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly until the temperature reaches 140 degrees (F). Remove the bowl from the heat (and turn it off all together!), remove the candy thermometer and transfer the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start beating the egg whites on medium and gradually increase the speed to medium-high until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
6. Roughly chop the toasted pecans and sprinkle over the pumpkin bars. Dollop the meringue over the top and spread so that it completely covers. Toast the top with a kitchen torch if desired, cut into bars and serve!