Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars for Halloween

For our household "Halloween Treat" this year I made one of my favorite pumpkin recipes—pumpkin chocolate chip bars. The recipe is from a special holiday cookie issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, and I haven't changed it one bit. It is very good just the way it is. A quick internet search will reveal that many bloggers have made and loved these bars. For those of you who have never come across these spicy little pumpkin and chocolate gems, you are in for a treat.

As with most bars, these are very easy to make—I will just add a couple of tips. First, the original recipe tells you to line the pan with foil, leaving an overhang so that you can lift the bars out of the pan for cutting. Foil works just fine, but I have always used parchment. It serves the same purpose as the foil, but I find it to be much easier to work with.

Pan, lined with parchment
There is no need to leave the parchment sticking up above the edge of the pan, so I trim it away with a sharp knife.

My other piece of advice has to do with the cutting of the bars. Unfortunately, they are not as easy to cut as they are to make. They are so moist that with each swipe of the knife, the blade comes out coated with a fair amount of cake and soft chocolate. Wiping the blade down after each cut will help some—but it isn't enough. If you want clean, sharp cuts, after each cut run the knife under very hot tap water. Then, wipe the blade clean and dry before making the next cut. The hot knife will slice cleanly through the chips, and since the knife has been wiped clean it won't gather a thicker and thicker layer of cake crumbs after each slice. The recipe recommends using a serrated knife. I prefer to use a very sharp slicing knife.

I guess there is one thing about these bars with which I take issue—they are woefully misnamed. The original recipe is called "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares" and the implication is that they are "cake" squares. If you make them expecting cake, you might be disappointed. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownie...or Blondie...would do a much better job of conveying the moist and "light, yet dense" nature of these bars. The problem of course is that they are not solidly chocolate—like a brownie—neither are they brown sugar-y—like a blondie. I guess there really isn't a perfectly appropriate name for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars will have to do.   Enjoy.... and have a Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

2 c. all-purpose flour (230 grams)
1 T. pumpkin pie spice (or substitute 1 1/2 t. cinnamon, 3/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg and 1/8 t. each allspice and cloves)
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 lb.), room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar (250 grams)
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
1 c. canned solid-pack pumpkin (245 grams)
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and then line the bottom and sides with aluminum foil or parchment paper leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter and flour the foil/paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda & salt; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat in the pumpkin (the mixture will look curdled).

Add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Add the chips just before the dry ingredients are fully incorporated to avoid over-mixing.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake in a 350° oven until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs—about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in the pan.

Using the foil/parchment overhang, lift the bars from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bars (24, 36, 40 or 48).

Cut into 40 pieces (5 by 8), to make bars that are a nice two bite-sized nibble.

(From Everyday Food Collectible Cookie Edition, Holiday 2006)

Printable Recipe


Paige said...

Chris, If you get the butter and the egg out now, you can easily get these made on your lunch break!

Katrina said...

Chocolate and pumpkin are such a great combo!