Did you all have a good weekend? I love the weekends. You can relax, take your time, sleep in and forget your worries for a little while. At least, that’s what I try to do! This weekend was interesting. It started out well, but ended with a nice 2 am visit to the Emergency Room. Long story short, after weeks of sickness and a loooooong string of bad luck, my husband is FINALLY feeling better. Poor guy! He is a champ. And, my hero. I probably would have been dead after having gone through all that he has gone through these past three weeks. Did I mention he is really good looking too? Well, he is and I am one lucky lady!
He also likes my cooking. If you are reading this, then you probably have an interest in my cooking too. And, you should…especially today because these little Pumpkin Shortbread Squares are to die for and are perfect for the season. If you follow me on twitter, then you’d probably remember me mentioning this recipe involving shortbread, pumpkin, caramel, chocolate and nuts. After thinking of a few ideas and brainstorming with my husband, I just chose a basic title. Kind of boring, but I figured it was better than Carachoconumpkin Bars which is what Gord wanted to call them. (He gets pretty creative when he’s heavily medicated and half asleep! Ha!)
My idea for these bars came simply from a pumpkin pie. I first thought about making a standard pumpkin pie, but with a shortbread crust. Then I thought about turning the pie into bars….and that’s when I mentally added in the caramel, nuts and chocolate chips….and died and went to heaven. Then I went to work and whipped these babies up in 10 minutes flat and popped them in the oven. Since I have no self control, I sampled these warm. Oh my sweet martha were they good! I made them on a Saturday afternoon (after my long run) on purpose, so I could ‘sample’ as much as I wanted! And, let me tell you, those 8 miles were certainly worth the indulgence. Yum. The shortbread bottom is tender and buttery. The pumpkin filling is basically a smooth and tender pumpkin pie filling. And of course I had to top the whole thing off with chocolate chips, chopped walnuts and caramel sauce. Everything worked together lovely and wasn’t overly sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite and so did everyone who tried them. I actually had the guts to give the last few pieces to my Mother-in-Law to take to a party! Everyone loved them there and she came home with an empty platter! And the best part was they weren’t the least complicated to make! Perfect for your upcoming Halloween and seasonal parties!
A few notes: if you are taking them to a function of some sort and want them to look good, I’d recommend lining your 8×8 dish with parchment or foil for easy removal and waiting until they are completely cool before removing and cutting. I did not wait because I have no self control and they looked a little sloppy. If you want them to look pretty, then wait! Also, all the toppings are optional! However, if you are smart, you won’t leave any out because these Pumpkin Shortbread Squares are just fabulous with all three.
So, there you have it, folks! A delicious and festive dessert that will please even the picky eaters in your house! Perfect for Fall! Get baking!
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Pumpkin Shortbread Squares
yield: 16 pieces
for the shortbread base-
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 heaping tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the pumpkin filling-
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (or any other nut)
1/4 cup prepared caramel sauce (I used Hershey’s Caramel Sauce–meant for ice cream)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 8×8 square dish with parchment paper or foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine all ingredients for shortbread until moist. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
In different large bowl, whisk together ingredients for pumpkin filling. Stir until smooth. Pour over shortbread and smooth the top. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips over top and press lightly into filling. Drizzle caramel sauce over top of entire dessert. Bake 45 minutes-1 hour or until pumpkin filling has set. Cool completely before removing. Cut into 16 equal squares and serve.
(*I happened to put mine into the fridge and ate a piece cold and actually preferred it that way! So maybe give that a try to see if you’d like that better than warm or at room temperature.)