Gigi Pumpkin Bars

This deliciously light and creamy pumpkin custard can be baked as bars in a 9-x13-inch metal pan or as a pie/tart in a 9-inch springform pan or 10-inch round ceramic dish.

Makes: 12 to 16 servings

For the crust:
½ cup quick oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
One 16-ounce can pumpkin pureé
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
6 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice

Preheat oven to 350°. To make the crust, stir the crust ingredients together in a medium bowl and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven until pale golden and crust is set, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

To make the filling, while crust is baking, whisk the filling ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture on top of the crust and bake in the middle of the oven until the filling is just set, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into bars with a serrated knife.

Notes: Instead of buying the spices separately, you can substitute 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Enhance the filling flavor and spices by combining the ingredients a day ahead, keeping it chilled and covered and then proceeding with the recipe.

Serving suggestion: Top with whipped cream flavored with pure vanilla extract and a pinch of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Also consider adding a shot of brandy or rum to the whipped cream for a special treat.

Nutrition Information per serving based on 16 servings per recipe:
219 calories, 10 g fat (5 g sat fat, 1 g poly fat, 3 g mono), 101 mg cholesterol, 128 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 6 g protein. Equivalent to: 1 Grain, 1 Fruit, ½ Protein, and 1 Fat serving

Nutrition notes: To decrease total fat, saturated fat, and calories further use evaporated skim milk for the evaporated milk, egg substitute for eggs, Splenda brown sugar for brown sugar, and trans fat-free butter/margarine blend in place of butter.

Source: Laura Pensiero, RD, owner of Gigi Tratorria and Gigi Market, author of Hudson Valley Mediterranean: The Gigi Good Food Cookbook.