Pumpkin Pie Bars

Single- and double-crust dessert pies are a traditional American food favorite dating back to the very beginnings of this country, and pies themselves date back to the ancient Greeks. The Greeks are credited with the invention of the pie shell, which they made using flour and water. Following them, rich Romans filled their pie shells with meat, fowl and seafood, and there is a record of a sweet cheesecake pie described by Cato the Younger. It did not go by the name of cheesecake but was called “placenta,” a somewhat unappetizing name to our contemporary ears.

At the very first Thanksgiving Day in 1621, it was not pumpkin, pecan or apple pie that was eaten, but the English-style meat pies that dated from medieval England. The very first mention of sweet pies comes from a 1796 cookbook which listed only three kinds, although America’s favorite pie, apple, did indeed come from England, originating in 1589. Once Americans got a taste for sweet pies, no holiday dinner (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas) seemed complete without them.

But a good pie depends upon a good crust, and a really good flaky piecrust depends upon wheat flour. Over the years of holidays in our gluten-free household I have devised many recipes to recreate the taste of our favorite pies without making the actual pie: for example, just recently Pecan Bars. Looking ahead to the Christmas Holiday, I decided to deconstruct pumpkin pie and also make it so simple that my kids could prepare the recipe by themselves. The bars can be made with a gluten-free graham cracker-style crust. The test was a great success and the kids can’t wait for a repeat performance.

pumpkin-pie-bars

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Yield: 24 (2-inch) bars

Ingredients

  • For the crust:2 (8-ounce) boxes of Gluten-Free Graham Style Crackers, halved
  • ¾ cup butter, cubed, or solid nondairy alternative
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • For the filling:1 (30-ounce) can gluten free Pumpkin Pie Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream or nondairy alternative such as gluten-free creamer or coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add halved graham crackers, butter and cinnamon. Process finely until well mixed with butter and no large crumbs remain.
  2. Spray a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper cut to fit. Cut a second sheet of parchment paper to size and reserve.
  3. Transfer crumbs to parchment paper-lined pan, cover with reserved sheet of parchment paper and, using fingers and the level bottom of a flat-bottomed glass, firmly and evenly press crumbs into a uniform layer. Remove parchment and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. While crust is baking, prepare the filling. Combine pumpkin pie filling, eggs and cream in a medium bowl. Beat until well-mixed and smooth using a hand-held mixer. Reserve.
  5. When crust has fully baked, remove from oven, scrape prepared filling into pan, smoothing and leveling. Return to oven and bake until a knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from oven. Place on a rack to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Cut 4 by 6 into 24 bars.
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