Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin, Chocolate, Pecan Explosion Bars + Love Caramel

It's starting to feel like fall, one of my favorite seasons! In addition to wearing scarves, jackets, and boots, I love using an oven to heat up a cold house.  Baking is my favorite activity in the entire world, and generally if you live with me baked goods are bound to be around, all the time. Except right now, since I'm sitting in my boyfriend's physiology class, headed back to Santa Barbara today after an awesome weekend!

Pumpkin, Caramel, Chocolate, Pecan Explosion Bars!

For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2  chopped pecans
6 Tbl butter, softened
1/4 chocolate chips

For the filling:
1 8oz package of cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 15oz can of Pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl, incorporate butter with a fork or pastry cutter.  Once incorporated, mix in pecans, and chocolate chips.  Press this mixture on the bottom of a buttered 8 x 8 pan.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Mix cream cheese, cream and sugar, using a mixer, if you have one, unlike me :( Once well mixed add eggs, one at a time. Beat well.  Add pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, mix well.

Allow crust to cool before pouring filling into the pan, then bake for 30-45 minutes until the middle is just about set.

Also, if desired you can save some of the crumble mixture and place it on top of the bars half-way through baking.

Continue to make caramel, see recipe below.

Once the bars are done baking allow to cool for about an hour.  Finally drizzle caramel on top and enjoy!

The Juices of Autumn, aka Love Caramel

2+5 Tbl butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

While the bars are in the oven heat 2 Tbl of butter in a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar begins to expand, look foamy, and is brown and caramel-esque in color.  When this occurs, pour the sugar mixture in a different bowl and add sugar and cream quickly while whisking rapidly.  Careful! Sugar mixture is extremely hot, it splatters easily!  Continue whisking quickly for a few minutes until the caramel has a smooth consistency.  It's okay to have caramel solids on the whisk, it's snacks for later!  If fall was to be formed into a food, into would be caramel, use it for everything.

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