I volunteered to make some treats for a bake sale at work this week. I blame my insane Pinterest habit during pumping sessions. I am happy to report that this was not a Pinterest Fail (ie Salinterest), but a huge, buttery, sugary success. This recipe was posted at NoblePig, but she credits Cuisine at Home magazine for the original. Either one, it is fantastic and thank you!
To say that this recipe is decadent would be a complete understatement! There is bacon, bacon fat, butter, sugar, brown sugar, cream cheese, heavy cream, more sugar, and more butter (and pumpkin cause you know veggies or is pumpkin a fruit?).
Below is my adaptation of the Pumpkin Caramel Bars with BACON!
Start with necessities.
Open flour and sugar canister and briefly panic because there is neither two cups of flour nor a half cup of sugar in non-transparent canisters. Check pantry, find stockpiles. Whew. Continue.
Start with Bacon. Naturally.
Try to keep husband from eating all the bacon.
Combine brown sugar and granulated sugar, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin into stand mixer bowl. Add melted butter mixed with BACON GREASE!
Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
Aside: I have had to learn the hard way that baking is not like cooking. Free-styling is not recommended, especially when it comes to mixing up instruction steps and throwing everything into the bowl at once.
So SEPARATE bowls check? Check.
Beat egg/sugar mixture until smooth, then add flour mix little by little until combined. Stir in toasted pecans (or non-toasted like I did because again with the free-styling in the kitchen).
Pour batter into 9×13 (I think) inch dish that was previously greased with cooking spray. I do not think that cooking spray was really necessary, the bacon grease made the batter pretty slick. This was how clean the bowl ended up.
Place beautiful pan of pumpkin goodness into the oven at 350 for 20ish minutes.
Small rant, why are baking instructions so incredibly precise (like room temperature eggs, and add flour 1 tsp at a time, and stir for 51.3 strokes) but then the baking time varies by like 10-15%?!
Ahem. Place pan into oven and wait until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. About 20 minutes. Or 25 minutes if you are using my specific oven. Your oven is probably more like 22.141567824 minutes or maybe a half hour.
After the pumpkin bar is finished baking let the pan cool completely. Also, don’t eat any. Or try not to, because it smells amazing.
At this point, you may want to cook some more bacon, if some of yours mysteriously disappears as mine did.
Now for the Caramel Sauce. I’ve never ever attempted caramel before. Something about the idea of intentionally burning something made me afraid I would end up with a kitchen fire or third degree burns on my face. It went pretty smoothly though and now I feel a little silly. Caramel I have defeated you!
So add more brown sugar and a little water to a sauce pan, I’d recommend a larger one, this one got pretty close to boiling over before all was said and done.
Cook the caramel until it thickens. This also gives me twitches like the baking time thing, can this engineer get some density approximations? What is “thick”? How “thick”? Thickness is a very subjective term!
Once the sauce “thickens” (“approximately” 10 minutes) add cubed butter and cream and stir like crazy and hope the whole thing doesn’t blow!
Then place sauce into stand mixer (wash it first) and beat on medium until the bowl is cool to the touch, “approximately” 10 minutes. Add cream cheese (I added extra cream cheese and there was a lot of caramel frosting!).
Frost the pumpkin bars and drizzle with bacon crumbles and OMG eat the whole thing!
I didn’t eat the whole thing. I split one portion between me, my husband, and my daughter. Juuuust to make sure I didn’t forget something crazy like the pumpkin or flour. I didn’t. They were delicious. I think I gained two pounds from one bite.
Stupid good, go make these right now. Here’s the recipe.
Pumpkin Caramel Bars with BACON!
courtesy of Noble Pig by way of Cuisine at Home
8oz. bacon, crumbled
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (Trader Joe’s makes an organic variety)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 stick + 2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup chopped, toasted (or not) pecans
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
4oz cream cheese
sea salt (optional for drizzle, I omitted because personally I felt that the bacon was salty enough)
Preheat the over to 350F. Coat a 9×13 inch baking pan (I used glass) with nonstick spray. Cook bacon in sauté pan until crisp, reserve 2 tbs of grease.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat together on medium pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, egg, 2 tbs melted butter, bacon grease, and vanilla. Add flour mix, with mixer on low, a little at a time. Stir in pecans.
Transfer batter to the pan and bake about 20 minutes or until batter is no longer moist. Let cool complete before frosting.
Boil 2 cups of brown sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan over high heat, about 5 minutes. Stir a lot to prevent kitchen fires. Whisk in cream and cubed butter. Boil 2 more minutes. Transfer caramel to stand mixer and mix on high until the sides of the bowl are cool to the touch, 10 minutes. Add cream cheese a little at a time until the frosting is smooth.
Frost bars, drizzle bacon crumbs and sea salt (if desired). Refrigerate the bars once finished because the caramel will melt off otherwise.
One last shout out to Noble Pig. This recipe was amazing and the bars were a hit at the bake sale. Thank you!