Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Bars

I have a friend who gave me a useful tip pertaining to grocery shopping.  I was lamenting how my husband could go to the store with a list but sometimes forgot a couple things, including, invariably, the thing I needed most.

She said she'd been there, and her solution was to add a few random extra items to the list before handing it over to her husband.  That way, hopefully, whatever he forgot wouldn't be the thing needed most.  She said it seemed to work, and I'm no mathematician, but it made sense to me.

However, it didn't factor into account buying the wrong item, which is what happened when "canned pumpkin" on the list became this:

As you probably know, pumpkin pie mix, or pumpkin pie filling, is different from canned pumpkin in that it already contains the sugar and spices and whatnot.  I have never used it, preferring to add my own level of sweetness and spice mixture to my holiday pie. Call me a control freak.

We did get plain old canned pumpkin in time for Thanksgiving and put the pie filling on the pantry shelf along with the receipt so we could return it sometime.

However, I got bored an idea on Friday for using the can of pie filling to make something other than pie.  How about cookies?  I added a bit of this and that to the pie filling and then changed my mind while stirring it together because the consistency was looking more like cake batter than cookies.  I am known to take the path of least resistance, and thus I settled for dumping it all into a 9-inch pan and hoping for pumpkin cake.

When my timer went off at 25 minutes, I checked it.  The center was still  mushy.  Maybe another six minutes?  Nope, still gooey.  I set and re-set the timer three or four more times.  Ultimately, I took it out after about 46 minutes, when the toothpick test finally came up clean.

By that time, I had begun to lose confidence in how this concoction was going to taste.  Nevertheless, I let it cool while I went and took a nap.  Baking is hard work.

As I cut into it later, I noticed it didn't have the kind of "crumb" a cake has.  It had more the consistency of pie...but not quite.  The texture was kind of a cross between the two.  What would you call that?

Not quite pie, yet not quite cake.  Cie?  Pake?

How about bars.  Bars works.

And, lo and behold, they tasted great!  This morning, they were just as good and maybe even better.  (Disregard the fact that I've just called them great/good/better, in that order, in the space of two sentences.  This food gig is not my usual terrain.)  It stayed well set up and the flavors melded nicely. There's some foodie verbiage for you.

I can see this type of bar appealing to folks who like pumpkin pie but not particularly the crust.  Do you have any of those in your family?  I do.  Maybe it's genetic.

So I'm memorializing the recipe here, in case anyone has a can of pumpkin pie mix lying around, or in the event I end up with one again sometime. If you don't need it to be gluten-free, you could probably use 2 cups of regular flour plus the baking soda, but I'm not sure how that might affect the texture.**  Maybe it would end up more like cake and less like pie, or maybe you'd be able to make those cookies.  If you try it, let me know.

**Edited to Add:  Marei made these and had this to say:

"These bars came out wonderfully.  I used regular flour and about 1.5 tsp. of baking soda.  I actually think I'd drop that down to no more than a tsp.  The crumb was very moist and the texture was a cross between a 'regular' pumpkin bar and a cake-y thing.  I liked it a lot and will use this again next time I buy the wrong pumpkin.  Oh...I would also add in a dash of salt and some vanilla...just because I like vanilla."

Thanks, Marei!

Pumpkin Pie Bars (Gluten-Free)

1 can Libby's pumpkin pie mix (not canned pumpkin)
1 large egg
1/4 c. soft butter (I used ghee)
2 c. gluten-free flour mix as follows, stirred together in a small bowl:
    1 c. almond flour
    1/4 c. coconut flour
    1/4 c. tapioca flour
    Scant 1/2 c. sorghum flour
    1/4 t. xanthan gum
    2 t. baking soda
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Stir the gluten-free flour mixture together in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, stir the pumpkin pie mix, egg, and butter together until well mixed.  Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Pour into baking pan and top with pecans and chocolate chips.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool before cutting.


  1. “As you probably know, pumpkin pie mix, or pumpkin pie filling, is different from canned pumpkin” – no I didn’t know that because we dont get any of those things Down Under.

    Send me a can of pumpkin whatever and I will definitely make those bars ....or maybe I can whizz up some cooked pumpkin – throw in some spices and go down that road?

  2. I think it's interesting that you had to reset the timer several times... and it still turned out really good. I would have been worried that the outer areas that were already cooked well would have been over baked and thus hard a a wedge of wood!

    So glad that you enjoyed it and had success!

  3. "Disregard the fact that I've just called them great/good/better, in that order, in the space of two sentences." LOL I LOVE how your mind works Paulette! You had me laughing several times while reading this post. Cie? Pake? Pumpkin Yummies? Who knows? I cook and bake just like this - which has created a mix of failures and family favorites. It's fun to be a mad scientist in the kitchen!

  4. I'm one of those who likes the pie but not the crust. This year I told Hubby I was making a "pumpkin something-or-other with a streusel-like topping". How's that for a title? Anyway, I too, had picked up the PIE FILLING instead of pumpkin puree. Took the filling, made it according to the can, put it in a deep dish, made a fantastic streusel topping, smothered the top with it and baked it for an hour. TO.DIE.FOR. No more pie for us!!

  5. Forgot to say that I've got another can of Pie filling...when I shop wrong I do it up I'm going to make your bars. Maybe even today :)

  6. That looks good. In Brasil they have what they call "bolo mole" which roughly translates to soft cake. That is kind of literal, but it is dense and not at all crumbly. Your pumpkin bars remind me of that. And the chocolate chips on top look divine. Until we get to the almond flour. Rats.

    My tummy is not happy lately. I wonder if it is because I sit a lot all day. There's a connection between walking and motility, so I'm going to try to do the eliptical every day for 20 minutes. As an added bonus, I actually get an actual bonus in my paycheck if I exercise 2 hours a week. Two good, low pressure motivators.

    Add that to my agenda for the evening and the fact that I got distracted by the photo of your bars, and my aforementioned blogging may go undone again.

    Lots of weird, bunny-train-of-thought comments today . . .

    xo -E


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