So This Baker Walks into a Bar

kindofabigdeal is looking for impressive bars that he can bake and bring to work in hopes of wooing his co-workers (they’re nurses). Hounds gave him lots of ideas.

Pumpkin Bars
Perfect for fall, yummy, and simple!

Mix well together:
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
16 ounces canned pumpkin
1 cup oil

Mix dry ingredients together:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to the wet ones. Spread in an ungreased jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting (1/2 cup butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 8 ounces cream cheese, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar). Refrigerate.

Figgy Raspberry Bars
These bars combine the best of fall fruits (if you can’t find figs, buy some fig jam and mix it with raspberry jam—it will be close enough):

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups figs, cut up
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Cook filling ingredients over medium heat until fruit is completely broken down and creamy thick, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

For the bars:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups oats
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup very finely chopped pecans (for topping and/or filling; optional)

Cream brown sugar with butter until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Split mixture in half.

In a well-greased and shallow 8-by-12-inch baking dish, line half the flour mix, then add filling, evenly distributing the fruit mix. Top with remaining flour mix and pecans, if using.

Bake at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool and serve. Makes 12 big bars or 24 small ones.

Key Lime Blueberry Bars
Here’s a bar for citrus-lovers, combining Key lime and blueberries.

For the crust:
5 ounces animal crackers (or graham crackers, if you prefer)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
Pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the filling:
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest, minced
Pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Key lime or regular)
Zest from the juiced limes (add to taste, 1 to 2 tablespoons)
1 cup fresh blueberries (you can leave out if you wish, given the season)

For the garnish (optional):
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted until golden and crisp

Heat oven to 325°F. Place foil in and up the sides of an 8-inch square cake pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the crust:
Pulse animal crackers in the bowl of a food processor until crumbs are evenly fine. Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

To make the filling:
Stir cream cheese, zest, and salt in a medium bowl with a rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain. Whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly). Mix in lime zest.

To assemble and bake:
Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Drizzle blueberries evenly right onto the filling. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

Loosen edges with a paring knife and lift bars from the baking pan using foil extensions. Cut bars into 16 squares, sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve.

Finally, for a layered bar with a chocolate base, try these Nanaimo bars, a (delicious) Canadian specialty.

Board Link: looking for great “bar” recipes (lemon bar, seven layer bar… etc.)