Creamy Pumpkin Bars
from Joy the Baker
For the Crust:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
For the Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
9 roasted pecan halves for topping
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or shortening. Line with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and oats. Add cold butter and quickly but thoroughly break the butter up into the dry ingredients. When broken down, some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, others will be the size of oat flakes. Add the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine.
Remove about 1 1/2 (to 2 cup) of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator. This will be our crumble topping.
Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan. Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans. Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan. Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat cream cheese on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and pliable. This will help the cream cheese be less chunky when combined with the pumpkin.
Add pumpkin and sugar to the softened cream cheese and beat on medium speed. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring that the pumpkin and cream cheese are thoroughly combined. If the cream cheese looks chunky, switch to the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until most of the cream cheese lumps are incorporated.
On medium speed add the egg and egg white. Beat to combine (about 1 minute). Add the spices, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.
Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator. Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust. Sprinkle generously with crumb topping and top with pecan halves. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing. I like to slice and serve these bars chilled.
To store, wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.