My husband and I live in an 850 square foot one-bedroom apartment in New York City. You may be surprised to learn that 850 square feet is rather large for a one-bedroom apartment. However, this means I have a 6 foot by 8 foot kitchen. Cue gasps.
Now, I know from watching… well… every show on HGTV, that a 6 by 8 kitchen is horrifying to most of you. In fact, it may even alarm you that my dream renovation involves turning my 6 by 8 kitchen into a galley so I’d have more counter space. Yes, I understand that is a nightmare to the rest of the U.S. but that’s life in the big city for you. Don’t get me started on $2 million properties without laundry rooms. (A washer/dryer stacked in a closet is NOT a laundry room!)
Anyway, you can imagine my utter joy when I discovered cookie bars. Not blondies, but cookie bars. That’s right, cookies that do not require rolling out dough on counters that I simply don’t have. Necessity is the mother of invention and I’m guessing the genius who thought this one up had a similar counter issue or had a slew of kids and no time on her hands. Either way, pop open the champagne because these are a dream come true.
- 2 cups flour mix A or B
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons whole milk or coconut milk
- 1-13 ounce jar Nutella (or other chocolate spread)
- *Note: You can make your own pumpkin pie spice by combining the following:
- 2 parts ground cinnamon
- 1 part ground nutmeg
- ½ part ground ginger
- ½ part ground allspice or cloves
- Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Then line it with 2 sheets of parchment paper or foil in a crisscross pattern. Make sure the parchment or foil overhangs the edges of the pan so you can easily lift out the bars when they are done.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour mix, spice mix, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Add the melted butter, pumpkin, and both sugars to a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium high until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Turn the mixer down to low and add the egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- With the mixer still on low speed, add the flour mix gradually. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the bowl.
- Spread half ½ of the batter in the bottom of the pan. Tip: I used a combination of my rubber spatula and fingers. Bake for 5 minutes.
- Place Nutella in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 45 seconds to a minute. Stir it a bit and pour it evenly over the top of the partially baked crust. Spread it gently so it covers the whole pan. Tip: Only heat the Nutella when you are ready to use it. Note: The jar of Nutella is sealed with foil. Odds are, when you remove the foil, some will remain on the edges. Therefore, I do not recommend placing the whole jar in the microwave.
- Scoop tablespoons of the remaining batter over the top and carefully spread with your fingers. Tip: It will be about 12 tablespoons. Don’t worry about making a smooth layer.
- Bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the top is firm and the edges start to brown. Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan using the overhanging paper and cool completely before slicing into 9 or 12 pieces.
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