gluten free pumpkin pie bars


Autumn is officially here. I wrote this on the Sunday after we turned our clocks back (a day that always gets me a little down, despite the extra sleep), the evening is already nearly dark, the air is distinctly chilled, the leaves are crunchy. And I'm still wearing shorts. I'll let it go someday.

Anyway, since the gluten free version of these lemon bars came out far better than anticipated (better than better, actually), I thought why not make a fall-friendly version and swap the lemon custard out for, what else: pumpkin.

Pumpkin pie may be one of my favorite desserts ever. Even if it's vegan. If I could eat it all year round (which I guess we can), I would. It's got all my favorite elements: creamy, smooth, spicy, sweet. While you can swap out the crust for a gingersnap version or even make a traditional but vegan crust, either of these options could still pose an issue for our gluten-free friends. Gluten-free is tough time, y'all. I mean, getting better, to be sure, but it's still not a great feeling to get together for a holiday gathering only to find that you can't have any dessert: None. 'Tis the season, I guess.

So be the hero of your Thanksgiving table (or any table, really) by bringing along these super easy AND gluten-free pumpkin pie bars. All the elements of a classically wonderful pumpkin pie, all on a super quick gluten-free shortbread crust. Definitely don't expect any leftovers here.

For the crust, you'll need:

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 stick of (cold) butter, cut into cubes
1-2 tablespoons cold water

For the filling, you'll need:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
15 ounces pumpkin purée, fresh or canned
2 large eggs
12 ounces milk, (1% or 2% will work)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray an eight-inch pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine your flours, cornstarch and confectioners' sugar. Pulse together until evenly combined. Add your butter and pulse until the largest pieces are no larger than a pea. At this point, add your water (slowly) about half a tablespoon at a time. Allow to pulse between additions to see if your dough comes together. If it still appears crumbly, add more water. If not, turn out into your prepared pan and press evenly until your dough is evenly distributed. Chill in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes.

After your dough has set, bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.

When your dough is nearly done (about 10 minutes or less), you can begin to prepare your filling. Start by adding your sugar, salt and spices in a small bowl. In a separate larger bowl, beat together your two eggs. Stir in your pumpkin and then your sugar/spice mixture. Whisk in your milk and pour over the pre-baked crust.

Transfer back to the oven (now at 425 degrees) for fifteen minutes. Reduce the temperature back to 350 and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until the center of the bars seem firm. Allow to cool completely on the countertop then transfer to the refrigerator (well-covered) to chill overnight. 

Probably should have mentioned that part first, right?

Once the bars are completely chilled, slice into squares. You should probably try one before you take them to your event, holiday or otherwise, just to, you know, make sure that they're awesome. (Hint: they are.)

Note: If you find yourself with a little too much filling, you can always put some butter-brushed filo dough in muffin tins and bake for 30-40 minutes for a quick mini pie treat whenever the mood strikes. The mood will strike often