Guest Author - Lisa Graf
I recently hosted a brunch to kick off the holiday season. I wanted a sweet yet breakfast-y item to serve as dessert. I ended up deciding on Pumpkin Oat Bars, and they were a great end to the meal. The Pumpkin Oat Bars were a hit and several of my friends requested the recipe after the brunch. I hope you, your family, and your friends enjoy this simple yet satisfying recipe.
Pumpkin Oat Bars (makes 16 servings)
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg (if you do not eat dairy, you can substitute 1 TB ground flaxseeds combined with 4TB water for the egg)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1 jar pumpkin butter (I used the one from Trader Joes)
1/2 - 3/4 cup candied pecans
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, or grease the sides and base of the pan.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, maple syrup, milk, vanilla, and egg.
Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. Set aside 1/2 cup of the oat mixture. Scoop the remaining oat mixture into the pan and press down so that the oatmeal base covers the entire pan.
Cook the oatmeal base in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread a layer of pumpkin butter on top of the oats. Sprinkle the reserved oat mixture onto the pumpkin butter, and top with the pecans.
Bake the bars for another 10 minutes. Allow them to cool completely on the counter, and then put the pan in the freezer for at about an hour. This will make cutting the bars into nice, clean squares much easier!
The great thing about this recipe is that once you have mastered the basic instructions, you can play with your favorite flavors, add seasonal or holiday touches, and completely customize the bars to your liking. In place of pumpkin, try sautéed cinnamon apples for a winter treat, fresh berries for a summer version, or a peanut butter and chocolate version for a more decadent dessert.
Pumpkin works especially well here because of its light texture and understated flavor, allowing each individual component of the bars to come through in each bite. You can taste the sweet oatmeal layer as well as the crunchy candied nuts. All in all, this is a great blend of textures and tastes, and will be perfect for next time you are looking for a quick, easy, and delicious dessert.