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Simple Cooking: Pumpkin Pie Pecan Bars

By Molly Durham in Food on Oct 5, 2011 6:20PM

We know, we know... pumpkin in fall: overdone. But can it really be overdone?

Mixing up the parts into bars makes it even more enjoyable and we can't resist eating every pumpkin dessert 'til we're about to turn into one ourselves. These things are like if you dumped a pumpkin pie into a bag, shook it all up, then it turned into big chunks of jumbled goodness.

Pumpkins are everywhere this time of year. They're grown and used locally, made into jack-o-lanterns and made into everything from breads to pies to beers.

We prefer using Libby's canned pumpkin, an American staple for over 75 years, but it seems like it's hard to find so far this year. The Chicago Sun-Times even reported a pumpkin shortage due to Hurricane Irene, which is sure to send those cans flying off the shelves the second they're spotted. Even more than usual. Find it (and if you do, please tell us where you did!) or use a replacement like this one from Whole Foods.

These bars are simple and nearly impossible to mess up. Throw in whatever kind of nuts you want, or make a different variety of crust with it.

Pumpkin Pie Pecan Bars

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup butter; softened
1 tsp salt
15 oz canned pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ΒΌ cup chopped pecans
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the, flour, oats, baking powder and half the salt. Mix until crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour mixture, and press the remainder on the bottom of 9x13" pan. Bake 20 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread over the baked crust. In small bowl, combine reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture with pecans; sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes or until set. Let them cool, cut into bars and try to not eat them all at once.