Dear SOS: Pumpkin pies always seem to be just pumpkin pies. This year, however, we got a pie with a delicious shortbread crust from Euro Pane Bakery in Pasadena. I was wondering if the bakery would share the recipe.
Dear Candice: Sumi Chang, owner of Euro Pane, said she created this recipe quite by accident. With plenty of pumpkin pie filling but no pie crust dough on hand, she decided to use shortbread for a crust and make pumpkin bars. They're very popular and make a great dessert. You also could use other fillings, such as lemon or chocolate custard.
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Note: At the bakery, the bars have a crust at least one-half-inch thick. In our testing, we found that a thinner crust produced a more delicate bar and one that is not overpoweringly sweet, since the shortbread crust is so rich.
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 tablespoon dark rum
1. Lightly whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl. Fold in the brown sugar, then the corn syrup, cream, pumpkin, cinnamon and rum.
1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it is the size of peas. Lightly knead the dough until it comes together in a ball. If the dough becomes too soft, place it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
3. Place the dough in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Lightly flour your hands and press the dough across the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. If the dough softens too much again, place the pan in the freezer for a couple of minutes.
4. Bake the crust until lightly browned, 20 minutes. Remove to a rack; cool.
5. Pour the pumpkin filling into the crust. Bake until the filling is set but still slightly jiggly in the center, 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack, then cut into 24 bars.
Each bar: 155 calories; 115 mg. sodium; 48 mg. cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.38 gram fiber.