Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Saved by some Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars...

We're back with another edition of baking for the Weekly Wednesday Treat day! We decided to go the seasonal route and choose a recipe from one of the latest Holiday magazines that are beginning to flood the shelves. When I showed Jeff the magazine, he pretty much decided on the spot that we were going to make everything out of this one! So, lets get started with the first recipe!

I was able to make good use of all that mashed pumpkin we made last week in the recipe for these Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars. This was one of the recipes that grabbed my interest and pushed me to buy the magazine in the first place. There are three layers that form these bars - the first is a gingerbread crust made from creamy softened butter, sugar, molasses, our favorite Vietnamese cinnamon, ginger, fresh ground nutmeg and cloves. Part of this mixture is reserved and cut with a few spoonfuls of rolled quick oats to be used as the third layer.

The next layer is a cheesecake-esque mixture of softened cream cheese, mashed pumpkin, granulated sugar for sweetness, vanilla, the same variety of spices from above and a couple eggs. This is then layered over the unbaked crust followed by crumbles of the reserved base layer. When you go to add this, be sure to squeeze the mixture in your hand to form large clumps - then, break off little pieces to toss on top.

Gingerbread Pumpkin BarsOnce baked and cooled, the bars are given a bright contrasting drizzle of confectioners' sugar mixed with butter, vanilla and a touch of milk. I loved how there was just enough molasses in the base mixture to emit that rich gingerbread aroma, yet there was not so much that it was all you could taste. With a gratifying pumpkin flavor and just enough sweetness in these cleanly cut bars, the filling had a captivating soft and creamy texture that set-off the buttery oat-nuggets strewn over the top. I thought the confectioners' sugar drizzle over the bumpy crumbles might be a little much, but as the filling was not cloyingly sweet, it added just a kiss of sweetness to enthrall you into another piece.

Gingerbread Pumpkin BarsI went back and forth about posting tonight's dinner, but figured we might as well since everyone has different tastes. I'm sure this Beer and Cheese Soup might be for someone out there - Jeff thought it was just okay, but there was something about it that didn't work for me.

The recipe started out well - we sautéed a couple carrots and leeks in melted butter before sprinkling in a bit of flour to start the base of the soup. Once the flour had a chance to cook out, we added milk, a bottle of amber ale and a good dollop of Dijon mustard. I think this is where my issue began flavor-wise. Once the milk mixture had thickened, a hearty dose of sharp cheddar cheese is slowly added off heat until it had completely melted and created what looked like a delicious soup. On my first spoonful, I liked the texture and the richness of the cheese was right up front and good - however, after that all I could taste was a bitter twang that just didn't mix well. I don't know if it was the combination of mustard and beer, but the two didn't work well for me. It could certainly just be my taste buds - I don't think I'll save any of the leftovers for me, but I asked Jeff if he wanted them and he said he wouldn't mind finishing it... so maybe someone else would like it too. At least I was able to have a pumpkin bar to enjoy afterwards!

Beer and Cheese Soup

16 comments:

  1. We love gingerbread in our house, but have never thought at all beyond jams of combining it with anything else, this has changed my mind though, the bars look delicious!

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  2. The gingerbread pumpkin bars sound fabulous!

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  3. Neil - I've always enjoyed it in loaf/cake form and I am pretty excited that it worked so well here!

    Jean - thank you!

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  4. The bars look amazing! But then again, I LOVE gingerbread and pumpkin! Thanks for the review--they're definately going into my "to-try" pile.

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  5. I think I will be trying both of these this week...yum!!!!

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  6. I like hearing your responses to the beer and cheese soup, even though you didn't like it. It sounds a little strange to me too. This kind of honest feedback is part of what makes your blog trustworthy as well as fun to read. And a big part of what I like about your blog is that you are always trying new things. It's inevitable that some won't be your favorite! Keep up the good work.

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  7. My boyfriend and I made a very similar Cheddar Ale soup over the weekend. Our recipe used mustard power instead of Dijon. We had similar results. It was incredibly too rich for my taste (I think we may have used too strong of a sharp cheddar) and there was a bitterness to it that I didn't love.

    I am excited to try whipping up some of your gingerbread pumpkin bars this next weekend!

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  8. Those bars look perfect for the cooler weather we have (finally!) been having in MN! I hope everyone appreciated them!

    Courtney

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  9. I love how you keep current with the seasons in your blog. Makes it so easy for me to try the recipes. Love the look of the pumpkin bars!

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  10. Elizabeth - If you try it, I'd love to hear some feedback!

    Peabody - we hope you enjoy!

    Andrea - Thank you! We were due for a disappointment I think.

    Alison - Maybe it is the sharp cheese and mustard we don't like?

    Courtney - it is staying pretty chilly huh?!

    Emily - Thanks!

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  11. Joe - These bars were fantastic! I successfully cut the recipe in half using a 7x10 pan. I'm hoping they will freeze well!

    I rarely ever eat sweets, but couldn't resist this recipe.

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  12. Holly - Very cool, I am happy to hear that it halves well too! Thanks!

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  13. just wanted to say that I made these yesterday in a 9x13 pan and they turned out great! Baked them around 40 minutes.

    My wife took them to work today and they were gone by 11:00 am!!

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  14. Andy - great! Thanks for the feedback about baking them in a 9 x 13!

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  15. Joe, digging into some gingerbread pumpkin bars right now! Delicious. The only problem I had is that I didn't have a 10 x 15 pan, and used a 9 x 13 pan. I didn't think it'd make a huge difference, but now I think I need to go out and get a bigger baking pan! I had to keep adding ten minutes because it was SO jiggly, and the cookie is pretty much burnt (both the crumble and the crust.) It's not so bad that I won't eat it, but I don't think I'll be bringing it into work like I had hoped. Great idea, though. I'll keep playing with it and probably just suck it up and get a bigger pan!

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  16. Kelly Anne - Next time you could try covering the bars with foil so the top wouldn't over-brown!

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