When I turned 30, IMAX surprised me with a cake and a batch of pumpkin pie bars from my favorite bakery in LA (arguably in the world). I was obsessed with having these again, and scoured the internet for about a year to find a recipe that would help me replicate them. I finally came across one that sounded and looked like the bars from Cookie Casa.
The annual IMAX Thanksgiving potluck is my time to do a test run of one of the dishes I’ll make the following week on Turkey Day. This recipe was the perfect opportunity to try the bars out. I found the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker, but I wasn’t happy with the outcome. The topping looked and tasted like crumbs instead of a chunky crumble. Remembering what gave crumbles that great semi-chunky clumpy texture from the crumble I made a few years ago, I decided to start playing with this recipe. I made this three more times between Thanksgiving and Christmas, tweaking each time and finally found something I was really happy with. I bumped up the pumpkin content to a full can of puree to help bulk up the filling, as I thought the original was a bit crust- and crumble-heavy. I also cut an extra 1/4 cup butter into the oatmeal crumb mixture with a pastry blender for texture, and I pared down the spice content a wee bit.
I brought these to the Annual Sho-Yu Holiday Party last night, finally happy with the outcome. I am happy to share the recipe as I have edited it, after making this a total of 6 times since November!
For the Oatmeal Crumb:
- 1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 C quick oats
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 1/2 C light brown sugar
- 3/4 C unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/4 C unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- 1/4 C granulated sugar
- 1/4 C light brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch ginger
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 can pureed pumpkin
- 1/3 C evaporated milk
- Make the Oatmeal Crumble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven rack to middle position. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides; set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt to combine. Add both the granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until no clumps remain. Add 3/4 cup melted butter and vanilla extract, then stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened. Press two cups of the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.
- Make the Pumpkin Pie Filling: Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Finally, whisk in the pumpkin, and then the evaporated milk until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.
- When the crust has finished baking, pour the pumpkin pie filling over the bottom crust and return it to the center rack of the oven for 15 minutes.
- While the filling is baking, cut 1/4 cup butter with a pastry blender into the remainder of the dry mixture until the butter is about pea size, trying to disperse throughout the remainder of the dry mixture. Set aside. This extra step will really give the topping that “crumble” texture, versus just being lots of crumbs on top.
- Remove the dish from the oven, pinch the oatmeal crumble mixture into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin pie filling. Return the baking dish to the oven, placing it on the upper-middle rack, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it is golden on top and the center only jiggles slightly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 1 to 2 hours. Then, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Are these as good as Cookie Casa’s? They’re not, but they are still pretty darned close!