I hope everyone had a fun Halloween weekend. Did you go out guising? Or trick or treating if you’re not from the UK. Me and a few friends dressed up to watch scary movies, eat Chinese and give our bags of sweets to the neighbourhood children. One of my friends was really excited about giving out sweets as this was her first Halloween in her own house, she really went all out. We all carved pumpkins and she made up 50(!) bags of sweets. Sadly it was a bit rainy out and we only got three callers at the door. Hey, at least that meant there was lots of leftover sweeties for us!
I dressed up as a vampire. Sadly that didn’t help me to find a Damon Salvatore but it was fun none the less! I don’t know if you’ve ever dressed up as a vampire but of course I wanted to have some good fangs. To the joke shop I headed to buy a set but when I got them home they were a bit of a disaster. It doesn’t help that I’ve had the teeth removed that you are supposed to fix them to (ahh…childhood braces coming back to haunt me) but it just wasn’t happening. So where does one turn when in need of DIY fangs? PIntrest of course! I found a very helpful tutorial for using fake nails and denture cream to create fangs. It sounds awfully strange but it worked like a dream! Just some tips for next year.
Bit of a costume tangent there, sorry about that! Let me talk about why we’re really here – Pecan Pumpkin Squares. These sweet little morsels don’t look overly photogenic but they did taste really good. Afterall, what’s not to like?! There is a crisp and butter shortbread layer holding the whole lot together, topped with a creamy and lightly spiced pumpkin layer then the piece de resistance of a layer of dark and sticky pecans. It’s two pies mashed together to make an easy to devour shortbread square. I think a dusting of icing sugar would’ve helped me out in the photo department but it’s certainly not needed for taste!
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1/2tsp ground ginger
- 1/2tsp mixed spice
- 1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 60g caster sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2tsp spice mix
- 1 can condensed milk
- 300g pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 2tsp melted butter
- 3tbsp maple syrup
- 2tsp spice mix
- 85g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3tbsp treacle (if you don't have treacle substitute with golden syrup or use dark brown sugar instead of the caster)
- 100g pecans
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees fan). Line an 8x8 inch deep cake tin with greaseproof paper. Bring the paper up the sides to help you lift the whole lots out once baked.
- First up is to make the shortbread. In a medium mixing bowl beat together the butter and sugar until combined, light and fluffy. Add in the flour, salt and spice mix then stir to combine. You may find it easier to get in with your hands towards the end. Once the mix is clumping together tip the whole lot in to the prepared tin and flatten in to an even layer - again use your fingers if that's easier or the back of a metal spoon. Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- To make the pumpkin layer just mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and well combined. Pour over the shortbread and bake for 15 minutes.
- In an a fresh bowl lightly whisk together the sugar, eggs and treacle (if using). Stir in the pecans. You can leave the pecans whole or crush them in your hands when you are adding them to the mixture. Crushing them will definitely make the squares easier to cut.
- Check the pumpkin layer after the 15 minutes, it should be starting to set around the edges and on top but will still have a wobble to it. At this point remove from the oven and spoon over the pecan mixture in an even layer. You will have convinced yourself it will sink but it won't, I was nervous too! Put the tin back in to the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the pumpkin has just set in the centre. You can check this by wobbling the pan, although the pecans can make it tricky to tell, or inserting a skewer in to the centre. If you just see very slight traces of pumpkin mixture then you're good to go.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin before cutting in to squares. Use a large sharp knife and cut in to either 9 or 16 squares.