Baking Pumpkin Bars for Eighty

Recently, a friend was cooking at a dinner for eighty people, one of these social events where everyone pitches in to help cover the costs of the food. Being from the panhandle of Florida, she was preparing a Cajun-inspired menu and asked if I would help with the dessert. While I was originally going to make sweet potato pie, plans morphed and we ended up with pumpkin bars, which turned out nicely nonetheless.

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Sweet potato pie would have been much more authentic for a Cajun dessert but local sweet potatoes are very small and the larger imported sweet potatoes are ridiculously expensive. I opted instead for pumpkins, which are plentiful and much less expensive. Scaling up from a recipe that serves maybe 16 people, I wasn’t sure just how much pumpkin I needed, so bought six.

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After cutting them, steaming them, and peeling and mashing the flesh, I had a lot of pumpkin puree. In fact, it was about half again what I ended up needing. That’s okay – you can freeze pumpkin puree.

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Instead of a usual pie crust, I decided on a recipe that used shortbread. Shortbread is not only easier to make than pie crust, it also adds a different dimension to the texture – providing a crispier base versus a tender and flaky one.

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Instead of pies, which would be more difficult to transport, I opted for four large aluminum trays that came with plastic covers. I spread the shortbread dough on the bottom and then baked it for about 15 minutes until it started firming up and tanning.

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The filling was pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cream, egg yolks, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger powder, and cloves. I whipped egg whites in a separate bowl and folded them into the mixture, creating a lighter texture.

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The filling baked in about thirty minutes. After cooling to room temperature, I put the four trays in my refrigerator and carried them to the event the next afternoon. A little chilling helps film up the pumpkin pie and makes it much easier to cut and serve.

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The end product, shown from a smaller test batch I did two days before. This version didn’t have the egg whites whipped separately, so the filling isn’t as tall as in the final version. Still just as tasty, though!

 

0 thoughts on “Baking Pumpkin Bars for Eighty

  1. I guess I need to be local to your area to rec this blog.I also guess you added enough sugar to taste. That is a skill to learn I suppose.

  2. Looks delicious. It’s always interesting to read about your cooking/baking something for 80 people. Feels like an industrial kitchen. Have you thought of opening up a canteen?

  3. why do you always make my mouth watered but never send me some? it’s a torture, i tell you. you making me miss the fall season in the east coast of usa. sigh…

  4. Okay, now my mouth is watering and I want one of those, Chris!!! How about posting the recipe…..but not for 80. I have a can of pumpkin on my garage food pantry shelves. Thinking I could use it for this.

  5. @Gma_Joyce – I have to say, I sort of patched the recipe together from a few other recipes, so I don’t really have a “less than 80 servings” recipe!@Ikwa – They refer to them here as Japanese pumpkins, although I would imagine there is another, more proper name.@Inciteful – Yeah, that was a dessert where a two-inch square serving was plenty at one time.@stebow – It is a lot sturdier than a typical pastry crust.@rudyhou – @Fatcat723 – What!? You didn’t get the piece I sent you? Those darn customs officials! =P@ElusiveWords – The trick is to not show any of the mess… Ha ha!@beowulf222 – I have thought of it and since I know plenty of professional chefs, I know that I’d never want to cook professionally. Too much repetition.@murisopsis – Ah, no fair…@slmret – That’s a good question. It just stayed relatively crisp. Maybe because I precooked the shortbread?@PPhilip – Thanks for the attempted rec. Yes, I find seasoning to taste is the best approach because the flavor will vary every time.@CurryPuffy – Open windows and turn on the ventilation fans… close before mosquitos come in. LOL@nov_way – @awoolham – @vsan79 – Glad you enjoyed the entry.

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