A week and a half ago, I saddled up and made pumpkin butter from scratch. It was so easy and was/is so gosh darn, knee-slappingly delicious that I'd say it's one of the top ten best decisions I've made in 2013.
If you haven't figured it out by now, food kind of runs my life. And I run so that food can run my life. It's a circle of life kind of thing.
Is Circle Of Life stuck in your head now, too? Sorry about that.
Gosh, it's been a while since I watched The Lion King. To be honest, it was never one of my favorite Disney movies. I enjoy certain parts, but parts of it are just so dark. That Scar is one rat b-... bad dude.
Mildly terrifying moments aside, one part that everyone seems to enjoy is when baby Simba is held up for the entire kingdom to see. Rafiki, the crazy monkey, is all, "Look! This guy here! Gonna be a big deal."
I'm really proud of my pumpkin butter. I want to stand out on the room of our apartment building and raise the jar for the entire the kingdom (of Oakland) to marvel at, but I won't because I don't think building management would appreciate it. That and it seemed extra weird when I pictured it.
Turns out it's a little tricky trying to share pumpkin butter with others. I didn't make so much extra that I could gift individual jars to friends, but the idea of carrying around a loaf of bread, a butter knife, and one jar of pumpkin butter isn't practical. It seemed that baking something containing pumpkin butter would be my best bet to share the homemade love.
Knowing that pumpkin butter is similar in consistency to jam, I wracked my brain for recipes that could be tweaked to have more of a fall flavor. Immediately, I remembered the strawberry jam crumb bars I made a few months ago.
When people ask how I come up with new recipes, I tell them it's often starting with an old favorite and simply changing one or two ingredients. You'd be amazed how small changes can result in big new flavors!
I added cinnamon and other classic spices to the oatmeal base for warmth and then baked the bottom layer to firm slightly before adding a very generous schmear of homemade pumpkin butter on top. Thicker than the original recipe because more pumpkin butter is always better, right? Finished with the same oatmeal crumb topping and baked until I literally couldn't stand to wait any longer to taste it.
Chewy, sweet but not so sweet that two of these couldn't qualify as breakfast, and intoxicating to the senses. It's so much more enjoyable to eat something that looks, smells, and tastes good, isn't it?
Try these and I promise you'll be all, "Guys! Try these pumpkin butter oat bars! Amazing!" while holding up the pan. Might be better if you're alone when you do that, though. I'm not sure how your friends will react to Disney movie reenactments with food.
Three years ago: St. Louis gooey butter cakes
Pumpkin Butter Oat Bars
-makes 16 two-inch squares
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash nutmeg, cloves, and ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
3/4 cup pumpkin butter, homemade or store-bought
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, sugar, spices, salt, and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter, blend in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the buttered pan, patting with fingers or the bottom of a glass to level. Bake for 15 minutes.
Remove, spread pumpkin butter in an even layer over oat base. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 of oat mixture evenly over top of pumpkin butter layer. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 16 (or 9, heck!) squares and enjoy. Bars will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days.