Hey everyone! It's October 29th! Do you know what that means?!
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you may want to refer back to this post for more information. Then hurry on back here for the partay!
Alright, so this month, the lovely Nora of Buttercream Fanatic was our host and she gave us a whole bunch of seasonal ingredients to work with, like turkey, sweet potatoes, nutmeg, squash, caramel, candy corn, etc. Of course, my eyes went straight towards the ones I could bake with, like squash, nutmeg, and caramel. Lord knows I'd make a fool of myself if I tried to cook creatively.
Originally, I had planned to make something with sweet potatoes because I looove sweet potatoes. But as October flew by and posting date got closer, I realized that there was going to be no time to go out and buy sweet potatoes, so I worked with what I had on hand, aka pumpkin.
And then came the hard part, which was figuring out exactly what I was going to do with it. I was literally up all night brainstorming ideas; I didn't want to make something that had been made a thousand times before but at the same time, I didn't want to go completely out of my comfort zone. So, I scoured and scoured the Internet until it hit me--magic bars! They're super adaptable and there's so much room for creativity, so it would be perfect!
You know what would make it more perfect? If I used the opportunity to make my own caramel out of sweetened condensed milk, a neat little trick I learned online. Apparently, if you boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours, you make caramel. Guess what guys, it really works! Consider my mind blown. And my magic bars, extra magical.
Having knocked out two ingredients off the list Nora gave us, I got to baking. Typically, magic bars have an absurd amount of layers, but I didn't want to mix too many things together and have it turn out to be an awful flavor combo. So I kept it simple: gingersnap cookies for the crust, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of ginger for the pumpkin/caramel filling, and chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts on top.
Although the layers didn't meld together like typical magic bars (probably because the caramel), they were still absolutely delicious. And this is coming from the girl who is anti-nuts. I guess when they're finely chopped I don't mind, plus they added a nice texture to my bite and y'all know I love my contrasting textures. Smooth pumpkin filling against a crunchy gingersnap crust plus a soft crumble on top....my taste buds totally hit the jackpot.
Pumpkin Magic BarsYield: 16 squares
Ingredients:One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (made into caramel)
1 and 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 cup finely chopped pecans
1/8 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Directions:Prepare caramel sauce a few hours before, or a day ahead. Remove label from can of condensed milk. Place the can on it's side in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and allow to simmer for 2-3 hours, adding more water as needed. Do not let the water dry out and expose the can, or else the can has a risk of exploding. After 2-3 hours, remove the can from the pot and allow it to cool down completely before opening it. (Note: The longer you boil the can, the thicker the caramel will be)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch glass baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides. Spray foil with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together gingersnap cookie crumbs and brown sugar. Add melted butter and mix together with a fork until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press mixture evenly onto the bottom of prepared baking dish.
In another bowl, whisk together caramelized sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until well combined. Pour evenly over gingersnap crust.
Sprinkle chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, and chocolate chips on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Let cool in pan completely, then transfer to refrigerator to chill before cutting and serving.