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No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bars

No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bars

Happy Thanksgiving long weekend to all of my Canadian friends! I know it’s been a while since I have updated the blog, but after a busy summer of travelling and then starting up the school year I had to cut back on a few of my side projects. Unfortunately that meant less recipes and articles for the blog, but hey that’s life!

 

Today I’m back to share a pumpkin pie bar recipe with you that I created yesterday. It is very easy to make since it’s no-bake, which might be helpful if your oven is full of the rest of your turkey dinner, or if you don’t consider yourself particularly skilled at baking. These bars are also gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free, which might appeal to many of you who have special dietary needs, or who have family members or other guests coming for dinner with special dietary needs. I created this recipe out of love for anyone who finds it difficult during holiday seasons because of a food allergy or dietary need (ex. Celiac, vegan, tree nut allergy). I know that people with special dietary needs can often left out or feel as though they are imposing on their hosts with their restrictions. Many times, it can be equally stressful as a host when you want to make sure you have something delicious to serve your guest, but no idea what to make. Despite being free from some of the more common dessert ingredients, these pumpkin pie bars are a treat that everyone can enjoy and not feel like they are eating some special dessert “alternative.” I personally have quite a few loved ones in my life who do have special dietary needs, so over the years I have been inspired to create many recipes to accommodate them and make sure they are able to safely enjoy delicious foods at every meal we share together!

 

I love butter and eggs and gluten and sugar – and the delicious pastries that they can create. There was a period in my life where I tried to eliminate or limit these ingredients, but luckily my body actually digests these ingredients just fine. Unfortunately this is not the case for many individuals with food allergies/intolerances, or who choose to eat a certain way according to their values (ex. veganism). I didn’t create this recipe as a “healthy dessert” or because I want to promote the idea that we all need to be going gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined-sugar free. If eating that way makes your body feel good and your life enjoyable, then you do you! And if eating all foods without labels or restrictions makes you feel great, then you should do that!

 

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, or if you’re just relaxing at home, I hope you have a wonderful day full of delicious foods and good people!

 

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No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Bars

Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Brooke McMillan

Ingredients

Crust ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (gluten-free certified if celiac)
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2-3/4 cup maple syrup (you can add more or less to sweeten to your taste)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (you can add more or less to spice to your taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Line an 8x8” or 9x9” baking pan with parchment paper so that it covers the bottom and comes up two of the sides. This will make it easier to lift out the bars for cutting

  2. To make the crust, first soak the pitted Medjool dates and raisins in boiling water for 3-5 minutes to soften them. Drain the water and add the dates and raisins into a food processor along with the remaining crust ingredients. Process on high speed for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture begins to clump together slightly. It should hold together when pinched with your fingers. If it is too crumbly, add a tiny bit of the date/raisin soaking water at a time and continue to process.

  3. Press the crust dough firmly and evenly into the parchment-lined baking pan. Place the crust in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling.

  4. To make the filling, combine all filling ingredients in the food processor and blend on high until smooth. Adjust the sweetness and pumpkin pie spice to your taste if desired.

  5. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and smooth out the top evenly. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 5-6 hours or freezer for 2-3 hours so that the bars can firm up. You can also make these a day ahead and chill in the fridge overnight. 

  6. When ready to serve, lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper as handles, then slice with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between cuts. It is much easier to cut the bars into squares while they are very cold. Serve chilled and store leftover bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

This pie recipe is for you to take advantage of the last of the summer berry harvests while you can – or to come back to in the cold and dreary winter months if you’ve planned well and stocked your freezer full of fresh summer berries. If you are using frozen fruit instead of fresh in a pie, then it may help to read this article with some tips for swapping fresh fruit with frozen, so that your pie will have great results!

 

I made this pie while visiting my mom on Vancouver Island in British Columbia in July. My mom, sister, and I spent a sunny afternoon picking blueberries from Blue Haven Farm in Comox with a vision of this pie in our heads. It was so peaceful to spend time in the rows upon rows of blueberry bushes, picking in a relaxed silence. Nothing makes you a more appreciative cook and eater than interacting with your food in nature – seeing how and where it’s grown and then harvesting it yourself. If you have a U-Pick farm nearby, I highly recommend checking it out before the end of the season and experiencing your food directly from farm to kitchen to plate.

 

After we picked enough blueberries for pie, snacking, and other delicious ideas, we enjoyed homemade blueberry ice cream at the farm before heading back home, where I gave my mom and sister a crash-course in making my all butter pastry dough. The pie crust is my go-to pie dough and works especially well with any fruit pie!  

 

If you’re a fan of citrus, I’ve included optional additions of lemon zest and lemon juice to the pie filling. I love the tartness of lemon paired with the buttery, rich pastry and the sweet berries. It’s an especially fresh and bright combination if you have less flavourful, or out of season, blueberries. If you’d prefer just a classic blueberry pie to highlight your sweet berries, then simply leave out the lemon ingredients for an equally delicious pie.

 

I hope you enjoy this pie recipe and make the most out of the remaining weeks of summer!

 

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Blueberry Pie

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 9 inch pie
Author Brooke McMillan

Ingredients

Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup ice water (you may need up to 2-3 Tablespoons additional water)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 6 heaping cups fresh blueberries (if using frozen blueberries, do not thaw the berries first)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch (or 1/4 cup corn starch)
  • zest of one lemon (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon cream or milk

Instructions

For the Pie Crust:

  1. Cut the butter into 1” cubes and place them on a plate. Put the butter and 1/2 cup of water in the freezer to chill while you measure the rest of the ingredients.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar until combined.

  3. Once the butter is very cold (not frozen), remove it from the freezer and add half into the bowl with the flour. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the butter into the flour until pea-sized chunks of butter remain. Add the remaining half of the butter and continue to cut it into the flour, leaving some bigger-sized chunks this time.

  4. Pour in 1/4 cup of the ice cold water into the flour/butter mixture and stir with a sturdy rubber spatula or a spoon to begin working the water into the flour. If there is still a lot of dry, crumbly bits of flour at this point, begin adding more ice water and continuing to stir it into the dough. This is the most variable part of the recipe because you may not need to use all the water, and sometimes you may need even a couple Tablespoons more water. Use your hand to press the dough into a rough ball and when it can hold together without dry chunks of dough scattering everywhere then you know it has enough water. Don’t knead the dough like you would bread dough, just press it together a few times until it holds. It should not be smooth like bread dough or pizza dough, and you may notice chunks of butter throughout, which is excellent – this is what will make a nice flaky pie crust.

  5. Turn the rough dough ball out of the bowl onto the countertop and cut it evenly in half. Quickly shape each half of dough into a round disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. You can also freeze the dough once it is made if you don’t plan to use it right away and it will keep well for 2-3 months.

For the Pie:

  1. Preheat the oven 425°F and move rack to the lower third of the oven.

  2. Remove one of the discs of pie dough from the fridge and unwrap it from the plastic wrap. Place it on a lightly floured counter top and use a heavy rolling pin to pound the disc even thinner before you start rolling it out. I find this helps start off the rolling process much more easily than trying to begin just rolling out a cold, thick disc straight from the fridge.

  3. Roll out the pastry disc into a circle. I start from the center of the disc and roll up, then down, then left, then right. I will lift the disc up every now and then to make sure it isn’t sticking to the counter and if I need to even out the circle. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly round! Keep rolling until it is about 2” wider than your 9” pie plate.

  4. Place the dough in the pie plate, and trim the excess dough, leaving about a 1” overhang around the edge of the pie plate.

  5. In large bowl, stir together the blueberries, vanilla, sugar, tapioca starch, and lemon zest and juice (if using). Pour into the bottom pie crust. The crust will be very full! Mound the berries up in the middle of the pie crust like a little hill. They will sink down as the pie bakes and as the berries begin to release their juices. Dot the top of the filling with the small pieces of butter.

  6. Roll out the second disc of pie dough in the same way that you did for the bottom crust. If you would like to do a lattice top (pictured) then use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the rolled out circle of dough into strips. You can make them any width you’d like to, just aim for them to be the same width. If you just want to make a regular double crust pie, then roll the circle large enough to cover the top of the pie plate and overhang about 2” just like the bottom crust.

  7. Whisk the egg yolk with 1 Tablespoon milk or cream to make the egg wash to “glue” to top and bottom crusts together and for brushing on the top crust of the pie.

  8. Brush some of the egg wash over the edge of the bottom pie crust; arrange the lattice strips over top, then trim off the excess strips around the edges of the crust. Pinch the lattice strips and the bottom crust together. You can use your thumb, middle and forefinger to pinch the crust into a fluted edge, or you could also use the tines of a fork to press all the way around the crust – it is completely up to you. If you make a double crust pie with no lattice, just place the second round of pie dough on top of the filling, trim away the excess dough around the edges, and then use your fingers or a fork to pinch together the top and bottom crusts. Be sure to cut some steam vents into the top crust so that it doesn’t burst once it goes into the oven (a few pokes with your paring knife will do, or you can make a pretty pattern or design).

  9. Evenly brush the top of the crust with the egg wash. This will give the finished pie a beautiful golden shine. Sprinkle the top of the pie with coarse sugar or more granulated sugar.

  10. Place the pie on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil to catch any filling that drips out (this will save you sooo much hassle in oven cleaning). Bake on the bottom rack of 425°F oven until top is light golden, about 16-18 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F, then bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Cover the top crust loosely with aluminum foil if it is browning too quickly.

  11. Let the pie completely cool in pan to allow the filling to set, at least 3 hours is best. If you cut into it right away, the filling will still be warm and runny. Slice and serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’ve stored this pie covered on the counter for a day or two and covered in the fridge, and both ways work just fine to keep it fresh.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

There’s nothing that tastes more like summer to me than strawberry rhubarb pie! Growing up, my favourite summer treats were always my grandma’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, rhubarb crisp, and of course pie. Rhubarb grows abundantly where I live, so there is always plenty to use up every summer. In Fort McMurray, if you don’t have any growing in your yard, then you can almost guarantee your neighbour will and that they probably have more than they know what to do with. So, if you have a rhubarb plant, or a generous neighbour on your block, make sure to grab some before summer is gone!

 

I was surprised this spring when I introduced rhubarb to my junior high and high school students and found that many of them had never seen nor tried it before. We made a rhubarb crisp and some rhubarb breakfast muffins so that they could experience the taste of this tart reddish green stalk that I love so much! Many of them enjoyed it, but for some of them the tartness and the texture took some getting used to. I find the combination of rhubarb with strawberries is always a winner, and creates a bright and balanced sweet/tart pie or jam.

 

The crust recipe for this pie is my all-time favourite pie crust recipe that I use for every pie that I make. It is a pate brisee dough, which is simply just flour, butter, salt, sugar (sometimes), and water. It results in the most flaky, tender, buttery crust that can be used for both savoury and sweet pies. I am a huge believer that pastry is meant to be made with ALL butter only. No shortening. That stuff is awful. Never sacrifice the flavour of butter for shortening just because it is more forgiving to work with! You can get great pastry easily with all butter as long as you keep your ingredients and hands nice and cold, and don’t overwork the dough. I hope my pie crust recipe is detailed enough to give you successful results, but if you have any questions or if something goes horribly wrong, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I’ll do my best to help troubleshoot! I don’t want anyone to be intimidated by making a homemade pie from scratch, because truly nothing can compare to a homemade, all butter pastry. The more you practice and a get a feel for working with the flour, the butter, and the water, the better your technique will become. And remember, if your pastry doesn’t look pretty but still tastes delicious, then that’s all that really matters.

 

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Author Brooke McMillan

Ingredients

Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1/4-1/2 cup ice water (you may need up to 2-3 Tablespoons additional water)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 cup sliced fresh rhubarb
  • 3 cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • 3/4-1 cup granulated sugar (adjust to your preferred sweetness depending on the ripeness of your rhubarb and the sweetness of your strawberries)
  • 3 Tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • few pinches of cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons butter cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons water

Instructions

For the Pie Crust:

  1. Cut the butter into 1” cubes and place them on a plate. Put the butter and 1/2 cup of water in the freezer to chill while you measure the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar until combined.
  3. Once the butter is very cold (not frozen), remove it from the freezer and add half into the bowl with the flour. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut the butter into the flour until pea-sized chunks of butter remain. Add the remaining half of the butter and continue to cut it into the flour, leaving some bigger-sized chunks this time.
  4. Pour in 1/4 cup of the ice cold water into the flour/butter mixture and stir with a sturdy rubber spatula or a spoon to begin working the water into the flour. If there is still a lot of dry, crumbly bits of flour at this point, begin adding more ice water and continuing to stir it into the dough. This is the most variable part of the recipe because you may not need to use all the water, and sometimes you may need even a couple Tablespoons more water. Use your hand to press the dough into a rough ball and when it can hold together without dry chunks of dough scattering everywhere then you know it has enough water. Don’t knead the dough like you would bread dough, just press it together a few times until it holds. It should not be smooth like bread dough or pizza dough, and you may notice chunks of butter throughout, which is excellent – this is what will make a nice flaky pie crust.
  5. Turn the rough dough ball out of the bowl onto the countertop and cut it evenly in half. Quickly shape each half of dough into a round disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours. You can also freeze the dough once it is made if you don’t plan to use it right away and it will keep well for 2-3 months.

For the Pie:

  1. Preheat the oven 425°F and move rack to the lower third of the oven.
  2. Remove one of the discs of pie dough from the fridge and unwrap it from the plastic wrap. Place it on a lightly floured counter top and use a heavy rolling pin to pound the disc even thinner before you start rolling it out. I find this helps start off the rolling process much more easily than trying to begin just rolling out a cold, thick disc straight from the fridge.
  3. Roll out the pastry disc into a circle. I start from the center of the disc and roll up, then down, then left, then right. I will lift the disc up every now and then to make sure it isn’t sticking to the counter and if I need to even out the circle. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly round! Keep rolling until it is about 2” wider than your 9” pie plate.
  4. Place the dough in the pie plate, and trim the excess dough, leaving about a 1” overhang around the edge of the pie plate.
  5. In large bowl, stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca starch, lemon zest, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour into the pie shell; dot the top of the filling with the small pieces of butter.
  6. Roll out the second disc of pie dough in the same way that you did for the bottom crust. If you would like to do a lattice top (pictured) then use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut the rolled out circle of dough into strips. You can make them any width you’d like to, just aim for them to be the same width. If you just want to make a regular double crust pie, then roll the circle large enough to cover the top of the pie plate and overhang about 2” just like the bottom crust.
  7. Whisk the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water to make the egg wash to “glue” to top and bottom crusts together and for brushing on the top crust of the pie.
  8. Brush some of the egg wash over the edge of the bottom pie crust; arrange the lattice strips over top, then trim off the excess strips around the edges of the crust. Pinch the lattice strips and the bottom crust together. You can use your thumb, middle and forefinger to pinch the crust into a fluted edge, or you could also use the tines of a fork to press all the way around the crust – it is completely up to you. If you make a double crust pie with no lattice, just place the second round of pie dough on top of the filling, trim away the excess dough around the edges, and then use your fingers or a fork to pinch together the top and bottom crusts. Be sure to cut some steam vents into the top crust so that it doesn’t burst once it goes into the oven (a few pokes with your paring knife will do, or you can make a pretty pattern or design).
  9. Evenly brush the top of the crust with the egg wash. This will give the finished pie a beautiful golden shine.
  10. Place the pie on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil to catch any filling that drips out (this will save you sooo much hassle in oven cleaning). Bake on the bottom rack of 425°F oven until top is light golden, about 16-18 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F, then bake until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes.

  11. Let the pie completely cool in pan to allow the filling to set. Slice and serve as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I find that the flavour of the filling and the texture of the pie crust improve over time, so this pie is even better the day after it is made! I’ve stored this pie covered on the counter for a day or two and covered in the fridge, and both ways work just fine to keep it fresh.

Recipe Notes

*Here is a tutorial video for how to make a lattice-top pie crust: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZ5GUvXhQN0