Creamy Pumpkin-Pie Shortbread Crumble Bars Recipe

These pumpkin-pie shortbread crumble bars combine the best of both worlds with no crust to make and a coffeecake crumble topping.

From "Cooking With Pumpkin"
January 2015

  • The contrasting layers of these pumpkin-pie shortbread crumble bars provide many different textures.
    Photo by Averie Sunshine
  • “Cooking With Pumpkin,” by Averie Sunshine, provides 50 pumpkin recipes for anyone who wants to cook and bake with pumpkin year-round.
    Cover courtesy The Countryman Press

Preparation Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Yield: 9 to 12 thick and generous pieces

Cooking With Pumpkin (The Countryman Press, 2014), by Averie Sunshine, contains 50 of Sunshine’s favorite pumpkin recipes, with an abundance of colorful images that will entice you to start cooking. This book goes beyond pumpkin pie and is filled with creative, fun and mouthwatering recipes from sweet to savory and everything in between. The following excerpt from “Cookies Galore: Cookies and Bars” is a recipe for creamy pumpkin-pie shortbread crumble bars.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Cooking With Pumpkin

I love layered bars with lots of different textures and flavors, and these fit the bill. The shortbread crust is buttery and tender, with just the right amount of firmness and snap. It’s the perfect base for the creamy pumpkin filling, which tastes like a cross between pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. The big pebbles of crumble topping add flavor, and are a wonderful crunchy contrast to the smooth filling layer. I think of these bars as the best of two worlds—a shortcut to pumpkin pie, because there’s no pie crust to make, and all the pleasure of a coffeecake crumble topping.

Creamy Pumpkin-Pie Shortbread Crumble Bars Recipe


Shortbread Crust
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), extremely soft
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese, very soft
• 1 egg
• 1 cup pumpkin purée
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1 teaspoon allspice
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Crumble Topping
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
• 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil, leaving overhang. Spray with cooking spray; set aside.

2. Make the shortbread crust. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a large mixing bowl and hand mixer), combine butter, flour, confectioners’ sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt, and mix on low speed until a sandy, crumbly mixture forms. It will seem very dry; this is okay.

3. Transfer crumbly mixture to prepared pan and, using your fingertips or a spatula, press crumbs down to form an even, flat layer. Pierce crust with a fork haphazardly in a dozen places so steam can escape while baking.

4. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until crust has just barely set. It should still be white, not golden or browned, and just beginning to crust over and set.

5. While crust bakes, make the filling. In the same mixing bowl used for crust (no need to wash it), combine cream cheese, egg, pumpkin, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, allspice, and nutmeg, and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and combined, about 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

6. Spread filling over the crust, smoothing it lightly with a spatula; set pan aside.

7. Make the crumble topping. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.

8. In the same mixing bowl used for the crust and filling (no need to wash it), combine the melted butter, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice, and beat on low speed until sandy crumbs form, a mix of smaller pebbles and larger marbles.

9. Loosely sprinkle crumbs over the filling. It looks like a lot of crumbs and it is, but they sink down into the filling while baking.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until center is set, crumb topping is just barely turning golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, with no gooey pumpkin filling mixture clinging. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.

11. Bars will keep airtight at either room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

More Recipes from Cooking With Pumpkin

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls With Maple-Cream-Cheese Frosting Recipe
DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe
Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Scotchies Recipe

Reprinted with permission from Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie, by Averie Sunshine, and published by The Countryman Press, 2014. Purchase Cooking With Pumpkin from the GRIT store.

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