Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Cookie Bars

Cookie bars to celebrate Halloween in the chewiest and sweetest of ways should include pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices, along with a good helping of white chocolate candy corn M&Ms. Substitute white chocolate chips for a solely Autumnal treat, sans the spooky.

Some of the hardest things to come by outside of the United States are the wonderful large pumpkins we use for Jack O’lanterns. Or if importers do bring them in, you have to give the shop an arm and two legs just to take one home. Right now in my local supermarket, Spinneys, there is a large pile of gorgeous pumpkins with price tags between 50 and 100 DOLLARS each. Isn’t that crazy? I must admit that there have been times that I’ve paid exorbitant prices – in Singapore, for instance – but then I still had girls at home and can one really put a price on passing cultural traditions on to one’s offspring? I didn’t feel like I was just paying for pumpkins but for a visual representation and demonstration of their heritage. Don’t mind me as I justify a ridiculous expenditure, but I promise not to judge whatever stupid thing you spend your money on.  Plus, who doesn’t love to carve a pumpkin?

Anyhoo, this year, I decided to forgo the whole pumpkins and just stock up on the canned stuff. I love the moisture that canned pumpkin adds to baked goods and knew that my Halloween cookies for this month’s Creative Cookie Exchange needed to have pumpkin. And some Halloween candy.

If you are planning your Halloween party and need some great cookie ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Make sure to scroll down after the recipe to see the links for all the Halloween cookies we are sharing today.

3/4 cup or 170g butter, softened
1 cup or 200g sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 15oz can or almost 1 cup or 215g canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 cups or 250g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup or 200g white chocolate candy corn M&Ms (You can substitute regular M&Ms or chocolate chips.)

To decorate:
Reserved M&Ms
Several pieces candy corn - optional

Cream cheese icing:
1/2 cup or 100g cream cheese
1/2 cup or 65g powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your baking pan by spraying it with non-stick spray or lining it with parchment. My pan is about 9x13in or 23x33cm.

Mix the flour together with the salt and spices in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

Use your stand mixer or electric beaters to cream together the softened butter and sugar.

Add in the pumpkin puree, vanilla and flour mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides occasionally. This takes just a couple of minutes.

Set aside a handful of the white chocolate candy corn M&Ms to decorate the top and fold the rest into the dough.

Scoop the dough out of the mixing bowl and into your prepared pan and spread it out evenly.

This stuff is thick and sticky so you might need to wet or oil your hands and use them to get it into all the corners and relatively even.

Top the dough with the reserved M&Ms and a few candy corn candies if you have some on hand.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cookie bars are just cooked and golden around the edges.

Meanwhile, you can be making the cream cheese icing. Soften the cream cheese with a few zaps in the microwave and give it a good stir.

Put it in a mixing bowl with the powdered sugar and stir until it is well combined. Add the milk one teaspoon at a time, stirring well in between.

Once the cookies are done, remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Cut them into squares and transfer to your serving platter.

Use a piping tip and bag to decorate the cookies. I wanted an offset spider web so I followed this plate-decorating tutorial on the web. Very helpful! If you only make the spider web, you are going to have plenty of cream cheese icing leftover. You can serve it on the side, or pop it in a airtight bag and freeze it.


The Creative Cookie Exchange theme this month is Halloween! Spooky, silly, creepy, we’ve got it all! If you are looking for Halloween inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes - Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts. You can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). We all post together on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

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