Love Fall. Love pumpkin. Not that crazy about pumpkin pie. No matter how hard I try, my pumpkin pie is usually a disappointment. In fact, after nearly 35 years of fruitless attempts I have only received one compliment from Neeners. It was several years ago on Thanksgiving Day, and time for dessert. Neeners very reluctantly took a piece, tasted it, and said “Good pie this year…..Finally”. Since I didn’t bother to write down the recipe I made up that day, replicating it is an impossibility. So we will punt – how about some Pumpkin Streusel Bars? Gingersnap cookie crust, rich and creamy pumpkin pie filling, and a buttery streusel topping. This recipe makes nearly the equivalent of two pumpkin pies, so feeding a crowd is a cinch. Perfect for a tailgate, potluck, or Thanksgiving dinner.
Oh! And the other nice thing is this entire dessert can be made in a food processor if you happen to have one hanging around. Let’s begin, shall we? The whole thing begins with a Gingersnap Cookie crust. I usually buy a bag of Nabisco Gingersnap cookies, but choose whichever kind you like. Pulverize the daylights out of them in a food processor (or put them in a Ziplock bag and beat them with a rolling pin until the cookies turn to crumbs and you have no more aggression left in your system). Mix in some sugar and melted butter and that’s all there is to it.
Here is your first decision point – you have two choices: This recipe can make enough for a 13×9 inch baking dish with enough custard mix left over to make a small loaf pan sized separate pumpkin filling. This comes in handy if you have gluten free guests or if you want to keep some all to yourself and take the rest to your relatives for the holiday. If you don’t want to do that and have an 11×15 (5 quart) baking dish, this recipe fits that size perfectly. For purposes of illustration and because I like to hoard some for myself, I made the 13×9 inch batch and a mini-me for snacking.
Press the crumb crust mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Here’s a nice trick: You can use a pint jar, drinking glass, or any such thing to push the crumbs down firmly and to help push some of them up the sides of the dish. Bake this guy in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. You want to see the edges crisping up so the crust doesn’t get mushy.
Next on our agenda is making the streusel topping. Another simple exercise: If you have a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon. You’ll want the butter to be about the size of small peas which are good for smooshing together later – we’ll get to that in a minute. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour. When you’re finished putting it together, just set aside.
Step 3 is making the filling. Back to your food processor (or just combine all of the ingredients into the bowl of your mixer. No mixer? Everything can go into a large bowl and get whipped by hand, or by using a hand mixer.
Here you can see the mini-me dish I’m using. I didn’t swipe any of the crumbs from the bigger dish to make a crust (but you can if you want). Also, you can add some of the streusel to your mini-me if you want – the big dish will never miss it. Feel free to also bake your mini as a simple custard without crust or topping. Your call.
We are ready for assembly! Pour the filling into your baking dish (or into your baking dish and your mini-me dish). Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until the top of the custard starts to set.
Grab your streusel topping and sprinkle over the top of your custard. Smoosh it between your fingers while sprinkling to make nice little clumps.
Back into the oven it goes for about another 30 minutes for a 13×9 inch pan, and probably 35-40 for the larger size. You’ll know when it’s done when a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Also, give the dish a good jiggle. There shouldn’t be any shimmying going on in the center – the whole works should appear pretty firm. Again, I am speaking from experience since once I did not follow my own advice in this area, and the crust nearly liquified thanks to my desire to yank it out of the oven too soon. I still ate it though – did you even have to ask? And there you have it!
Serve it up warm with ice cream or whipped cream (my favorite), or at room temperature. Or cold. You choose.
HAPPY FALL EVERYONE!! xoxoxoxo
- 2 ½ cups Gingersnap Cookie crumbs (ground in a food processor or put into a Ziplock bag and pulverized with a rolling pin.
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ cup butter, melted
- 1, 29 ounce can solid pack pumpkin
- 4 eggs
- 2 cans evaporated milk
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- STREUSEL TOPPING
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup cold butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- Make the crust: In a large bowl, combine cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into a greased, 13.9 inch baking dish.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust sets. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Make the streusel topping: In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter until butter is the size of small peas. Set aside. You can also do this by hand using two knives, or by using a pastry blender.
- Make the filling: Using a mixer or food processor, combine pumpkin, eggs, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Mix until well blended.
- Pour prepared filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. NOTE: You will probably have too much filling. Fill baking dish to about ½ inch from the top. You can bake the remaining filling in small custard dishes, in greased muffin tins, or whatever you wish. Bake until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle on streusel topping. Try to smoosh the topping between your fingers to form little balls of topping if can.
- Return to oven and bake until sharp knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. This will take about 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool about 15 minutes before diving in. Best warm, but you can always microwave for a few seconds if you don’t polish it all off right out of the oven.
- Really good with vanilla ice cream, but isn't everything?