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Holiday Recipe - Thanksgiving Pie Bars

Updated: Nov 26, 2018


This holiday season is throwing me for a bit of a loop. After recently selling my bakery (Buttermilk Bakeshop) - I've had well, a lot of free time. So when it came time for a Friendsgiving, the itch to bake was so strong I ended up with a variety of sweets that might have gone a little overboard.


In deciding what to make I figured pie would be too limiting. I know, pie is great, and Thanksgiving is really just an excuse to eat massive quantities of it, but for a Friendsgiving at a bar I figured Pie-Themed Bars would be just the trick! Not just because they're arguably easier to make/grab, allow for more creativity, or that you can eat more than one and not feel bad about it, but because sometimes in life you just need to switch it up.


Such was the case with these recipes. Referencing my upcoming book with Battman, I got to work turning my favorite Thanksgiving desserts into bite-size, gooey little bars filled with holiday flavors. One of these is my new favorite, one needed a bit of editing after the fact (see note), and one was good for all different seasons with the swap of a certain main ingredient. I'll let you decide which is which! I guarantee your friends and family will be very pleased with all three.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Pecan Crunch

Makes 12 bars


Gingersnap Crust

1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (save the extra cookies for snacks)

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 ounces (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted


Cheesecake Center

1 1/2 pounds (3, 8-ounce containers) cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice


Crunchy Pecan Topping

2 Tbsp water

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

Pinch of Kosher salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

2 cups pecan halves or pieces



Method

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and/or parchment paper. Combine all crust ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour onto the prepared baking pan and press evenly to cover the surface. Bake for 10-12 minutes until toasted along the edges and set aside to cool. Prepare cheesecake batter by mixing cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add eggs slowly to combine. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour over prepared crust and bake for about 1 hour or until only slightly jiggly in the center. Set aside to cool. Prepare crunchy topping by heating water, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a nonstick pan until melted and uniform. Add pecans and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until caramelized and bubbling. Pour onto a nonstick baking mat or sheet of parchment paper and cool completely before chopping finely and pressing onto the top of the cheesecake. Chill for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.


*Note: the original batch had a sour cream swirl and NO crunchy pecan topping (I know... what a mistake). There was something missing and in raiding our cabinet and finding extra pecans, inspiration struck!


Chocolate Maple Pecan Bars

Makes 12 bars


Shortbread Crust (if you like a thinner crust, halve this recipe and lower the crust's baking time by 2-3 minutes)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon


Maple Chocolate Pecan Filling

3/4 cup maple syrup

3 large eggs

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 tsp Kosher salt

Pinch of ground cinnamon

3 cups pecan halves or pieces

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks

(Optional) Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling


Method

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and/or parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add yolks slowly and beat to combine. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Press dough evenly into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and set aside to cool. Prepare the filling by whisking maple syrup, eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl to combine. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate chips over the cooled crust and pour the filling mixture evenly over to coat. Optional: sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes until only slightly jiggly in the center. Chill for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.



Caramel Apple Crumb Bars

Makes 12 bars


Shortbread Crust

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon


Crumb Topping

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats (optional)

1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp Kosher salt

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature


Caramelized Apple Cranberry Filling

1 ounce (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter

4 large apples (your favorite type for baking) peeled, cored and diced

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Pinch of Kosher salt

1/2 - 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Optional: 1 cup dried cranberries (or chopped figs, walnuts, etc.)


Method

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and/or parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Add yolks slowly and beat to combine. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Press dough evenly into prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Prepare topping by mixing all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until uniform. Prepare filling by heating all ingredients in a large pan over medium heat. Continue to cook, covered, for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally until caramelized. Pour over prepared crust, top evenly with crumb topping, and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Chill for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.


Wishing everyone a fantastic Thanksgiving!


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© Katie Rosenhouse 2020