Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars

So, you've probably noticed that my posting frequency has gone down. Substantially. Ironically enough, now that I actually have the funds to bake to my heart's content, I no longer have the time. Yup, that's right. I got a job. I'm now the resident baker at a private school in my town. The school previously did most of their baking from store-bought mixes, and they hired me to transition it more toward from-scratch baking! Sweet! The head chef also allows me a lot of freedom to try new recipes, so if there's something we need to make, he encourages me to bring in my own favorite recipe and to tweak it to fit my tastes! It's mostly breakfast baking--muffins, scones, eventually biscuits and quick breads--but there is some dessert baking, too. I made 500 pumpkin chocolate chip cookies for the kiddos last Friday!

So, while I am really excited to have this job and am really enjoying it, the fact that I work 75 hours a week between my two jobs is kind of cutting into my baking time. Phooey. I promise not to abandon you completely, though, faithful readers (all ten of you). And thus, I bring you this recipe. A fall twist on a traditional Canadian dessert. And boy, were they good! I mean, pumpkin and chocolate? Trust me, WANT to make these. They're rich, though, so cut them small (we're talking 36-pieces-out-of-an-8x8-pan rich).

Pumpkin Nanaimo Bars (adapted from The Eclectic Cook)

  • 1 c. plus 2 Tbl. butter, softened, divided
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 5 Tbl. cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped almonds
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut
  • 3 Tbl. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbl. instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine 1/2 c. butter, granulated sugar, and cocoa powder in small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar is melted and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly drizzle into the beaten egg, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press the mixture into the bottom of a well-greased 8x8- or 9x9-in baking pan. Let cool while you prepare the next layer.

Beat 1/2 c. butter until smooth. Beat in whipping cream, vanilla pudding mix, powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice until well-mixed and smooth. Feel free to adjust the amounts of pumpkin, powdered sugar, and pumpkin pie spice to your own taste. Spread this layer evenly over the cooled crust. Chill in the fridge until firm, while you prepare the third layer.

Melt chocolate chips and butter together (I prefer the microwave, but feel free to use a double boiler). Pour this over the top of the middle layer, and spread it so that it evenly covers the middle layer. Chill in the fridge until firm. Remove from fridge about a half hour before cutting so that the top chocolate layer can soften up a little (making it less likely to crack while cutting it). Devour.

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