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Pumpkin-Chai Bars with Pecan Shortbread Crust


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Pumpkin-Chai Bars with Pecan Shortbread Crust





Makes 35 bars

 

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 recipe Vanilla Whipped Cream (see Download for recipe)
Garnish: ground nutmeg



• Preheat oven to 350°.
• Line a 13-x-9-inch baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, letting foil hang over sides of pan to create handles. Line foil with parchment paper; spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
• In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, pecans, and ¼ teaspoon salt; pulse until pecans are finely ground. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl, combine butter, ½ cup brown sugar, and ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add flour mixture, beating until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan, smoothing to create a level surface.
• Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
• In a medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, cream, remaining ½ cup brown sugar, maple syrup, remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and nutmeg, stirring to blend. Pour over cooled crust, smoothing to create a level surface.
• Bake until set, approximately 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, until cold, approximately 4 hours.
• Lift from pan, using foil handles, and place on a cutting surface. Cut into 35 bars.
• Place Vanilla Whipped Cream in a piping bag fitted with a small open-star tip (Wilton #32). Pipe in a decorative swirl onto each bar.
• Garnish with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg, if desired.
• Serve immediately.

Make-Ahead Tip: Pumpkin-Chai Bars can be made a day in advance and refrigerated in pan overnight. Cut, pipe Vanilla Whipped Cream onto bars, and garnish with nutmeg (if desired) just before serving.


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