Pumpkin pie and chess pie come together in one truly glorious fall dessert.
This is what you call a dessert mashup gone right.
Very, very right.
It’s not too far from the pumpkin pie you’re used to, just sweeter, butterier, and more luscious.
It’s what pumpkin pie strives to be.
And unlike many pie recipes that are heavily spiced, this one is only subtly so, allowing the true flavor of the pumpkin to shine through. You can taste every ingredient, the butter, the sugar, and of course the pumpkin. The spice is just there for moral support, the running mate on the pumpkin party ticket. Subtle and supportive, but not superfluous, since without a touch of spice, pumpkin flavor tends to fall flat.
While I chose to present this marvelous mashup in bar form, you could certainly make it in a regular pie pan too… And it might just be the best pumpkin pie you’ve ever made.
The only thing I’d change about this recipe is the crust, which, as a result of the long bake time and custardy batter, does get a little bit soggy throughout. Even with a prebake, the batter still soaks in. I’m not sure how I’d fix that, and it by no means diminishes the deliciousness of this dessert, but still, there is room for improvement. I’ll definitely let you know if I figure it out.
Pumpkin Chess Pie Bars
Pumpkin meets chess pie in this delightful holiday recipe. Like a sweet and succulent pumpkin pie in bar form.
- 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer or graham cracker crumbs (about 8 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon corn meal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, lightly buttering the underside of the parchment as needed so it sticks to the pan and doesn’t slide around. You can also use a standard 9-inch pie pan or springform pan.
- Pulse cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Add salt, brown sugar, and melted butter and pulse or stir until evenly moistened. Press firmly into the bottom of prepared pan. (Tip: use a smooth rubber spatula to press the crust firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan).
- Bake crust for 8 to 10 minutes or until just set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack; let cool completely.
- To prepare filling, whisk sugar, brown sugar, flour, cornmeal, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a bowl until evenly incorporated.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs together with pumpkin. Sprinkle over dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Stir in milk and vanilla, followed by lemon juice. Stir in melted butter.
- Pour filling into cooled crust. Depending on the size and depth of your pan, you may have extra batter. Take care not to fill your pan more than 3/4 of the way full as it will rise slightly when baking.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until top is golden, slightly puffed, and covered with small bubbles. The center will still be slightly jiggly at this point, like firm jello. If it still seems too liquidy, bake it a bit longer. Note that if you are using a standard depth pie pan, your filling will be thinner and will take less time overall to bake. Start checking after about 40 minutes if that is the case. The good news is chess pie is pretty darn hard to overbake, so if you’re unsure, give it a few more minutes.
- Remove from oven to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours. Serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before serving, dusted with powdered sugar (if desired).