For many, the best part about Thanksgiving is repurposing the leftovers. Not for me: I’m happiest when the dishes are done and the meal’s remnants are sent home in the hands of industrious cooks who will dream up soups, hashes, pot pies and other ingenious uses for recycled food.
So I surprised myself last night—after this year’s “Fakesgiving” dinner, my posse’s potluck warm-up to the big dance—when I chased down my friend Deana on her way out and begged from her the remains of her wicked-awesome pumpkin bars. (Had I not already known that they’d reappear in our office today, the leftover bourbon/apple/maple Jell-O shots Kristin Donnelly brought to the meal would also not have been allowed to leave the premises. I pray she gives us all the recipe tomorrow.)
This morning Deana emailed me the recipe. Like many great desserts, it's a decades-old hand-me-down—in this case, from Deana's mother, Sandy. She also gave me Sandy’s blessing to pass it on. If you make some, send me the leftovers:
Sandy’s Pumpkin Bars
Makes 16-20 bars
One 18-ounce box yellow cake mix
1⁄2 c melted butter
1 large egg
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup 2 percent milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, diced
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Make the crust: Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Measure out 1 cup of the yellow cake mix and set it aside for the topping. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining cake mix with the melted butter and the egg until combined. Press the crust into the prepared baking pan.
2. Make the filling: In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs, milk and cinnamon and stir until combined. Spread the filling on top of the crust.
3. Make the topping: In a small bowl combine the reserved 1 cup of yellow cake mix with the sugar and diced butter. Stir until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the filling.
4. Bake the cake for 1 hour, until the crust is crispy and the filling is cooked through. Let cool in the pan, cut into bars and serve.