it's the first full week of October, which can only mean one thing. pumpkin! it's a bit of an unspoken rule for me to wait until October before launching into all the pumpkin recipes. these pumpkin tahini s'mores bars are a fall remake of one of the most popular recipes on the blog. if you're a fan of pumpkin (or maybe not), you will love these campfire classic treats, with a pumpkin twist!
in a few words, these bars are
- just a touch of pumpkin flavor
- pumpkin spiced
- a delicious balance of chewy, toasted and crunchy
- pockets of gooey marshmallows and melted chocolate
- pieces of crunchy graham crackers
- get even more delicious the next day
what ingredients do I need to make these pumpkin tahini s'mores bars?
you will need a few specialty items from the store. add these to your list:
- all purpose flour
- graham crackers
- pumpkin spice or ground cinnamon
- baking soda
- baking powder
- light brown sugar
- granulated sugar
- canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
- vanilla extract
- marshmallow creme
- semi sweet or dark chocolate chips or bar
what kitchen tools to I need to bake these pumpkin cookie bars?
- 8x8" (20cm) aluminum pan
- other pans options would be 9x9 or 8-9" round pans
- double the recipe to make this in a 9x13 pan
- parchment paper
- to line the pan
- stand mixer with paddle attachment
- to make the cookie dough
- or use an electric hand mixer with beaters
- food processor
- to make the graham cracker crumbs
- or use a plastic bag to finely crush a few sheets of graham crackers
- small bowl lined with paper towels
- this is to "blot" or remove excess water from the pumpkin pureé
is blotting the pumpkin really necessary?
pumpkin is a very water heavy ingredient. this excess moisture is wonderful for cakes, muffins and quick breads. it is not the best for cookies or cookie bars. plus, less water means more pumpkin. more pumpkin means more pumpkin flavor!
blotting the pumpkin is super easy. before doing any other steps in the recipe, line a bowl with a couple of paper towels. scoop about 1/2 c of pumpkin onto the paper towels. leave the pumpkin on the paper towels while you prepare the rest of the recipe. there's no need to completely remove all the pumpkin, just scoop out as much as you can while leaving the liquid in the bowl.
alternatively, if you want more cake-like pumpkin cookies, you can skip this step!
can I make these pumpkin tahini s'mores bars gluten free?
- chill the dough
- bake on parchment
- use mix ins (like chocolate chips, nuts, etc)
- bring ingredients to room temperature
- to make this completely GF, use store bought or make your own graham crackers
do I need to use tahini in these pumpkin cookies bars?
I have a deep love for tahini. Tahini or tahina is a Middle Eastern condiment made from toasted ground hulled sesame. The flavor of tahini is nutty, strong, earthy and slightly bitter. when tahini is used in baking, the earthy, bitter flavor fades, leaving only a beautiful rich nuttiness. I highly recommend using tahini in this recipe. however, if you need to substitute the tahini in this recipe, I recommend using 4 tbsp brown butter.
tips and tricks for the best chewy pumpkin tahini s'mores cookie bars
- read through the recipe before staring
- blot the pumpkin
- for the most "nutty" flavor, brown the butter and use tahini
- chill the cookie dough
- use a metal spoon dipped into hot water for scooping and spreading the marshmallow creme
- decide how "gooey" you want the bars
- adjust the time to achieve the final texture you want
- for the cleanest cut, allow the pumpkin bars to fully cool
- these taste delicious the next day
- make sure to reheat in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds for the best flavor
other pumpkin recipes to enjoy!
- spiced pumpkin apple bread
- spiced bourbon pumpkin tiramisu
- maple pumpkin coffee cake
- pumpkin gingersnap icebox cake
- pumpkin tahini chocolate chip cookies
- walnut streusel pumpkin bread
- caramelized white chocolate pumpkin bars
pumpkin tahini s'mores bars
- 8x8 (20cm) aluminum pan
- parchment paper
- stand mixer with paddle attachment or electric mixer with beaters
- food processor (or plastic bag)
- paper towels
- 1 c (120g) all purpose flour
- 1/4 c (22-25g) finely crushed graham crackers
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice or ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 c (57g) browned butter or unsalted butter, room temperature see recipe notes
- 1/4 c (57g) tahini, well stirred at room temperature see recipe notes
- 1/2 c (100g) light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp (50g) granulated sugar
- 1/3 c (80g) canned pumpkin see recipe notes
- 1 (57g) large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
- 4-7 oz. marshmallow creme
- 1 c (6oz or 170g) semi sweet chocolate chips or evenly chopped pieces of chocolate bar
- 1/2 c (50g) roughly crushed graham crackers
- To prepare browned butter, place 6 tablespoons (85g) butter into a sauce pan over medium high heat. Butter will melt and begin to foam. Using a whisk, stir constantly. Foam will subside, brown bits will form at the bottom and the butter will have a nutty smell. Remove from heat, pour into a heat proof bowl and cool for 15 minutes to room temperature. Transfer to the fridge to chill an addtional 20-30 minutes. Butter should be soft, but not cold in order to cream. If it has turned cold, bring to room temperature for 10 minutes. Alernatively, prepare browned butter the day before or use regular unsalted butter. Bring to room temperature before baking, along with all the other ingredients.
- Layer 2-3 paper towels in a small shallow bowl. Scoop slightly over 1/2 c pumpkin onto the paper towels. Allow the pumpkin to sit on the paper towels for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, gently squeeze the liquid released into the paper towels. Discard the liquid. Scoop 1/3 c (80g) "blotted" pumpkin into the bowl and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, finely crushed graham crackers, pumpkin spice, baking soda and powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, with paddle attachment, cream together the browned butter, sugars and tahini until light and fluffy (~4-5 minutes).
- Add in the egg and blotted pumpkin one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and beat again for about an additional minute.
- On the lowest mixer setting or by hand using a silicone spatula or spoon, stir in dry ingredients to the wet 1/2 at a time. Mix until JUST combined. Fold in 1/3 c chocolate chips.Loosely cover the dough in plastic cling. Place dough in the fridge to chill for one hour.
- Preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes. Line a 8x8" (20cm) baking pan with parchment paper, leaving 1-2" of an overhang on two sides. This "sling" helps to remove the bars from the pan after cooling.
- Roughly divide the chilled cookie dough into thirds. Reserve about 1/3 for topping. Evenly press 2/3 of the chilled dough along the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
- Scoop even dollops of marshmallow creme along the chilled dough. A spoon dipped in hot water can help. Spread the marshmallow creme evenly along the bottom.
- Top the marshmallow creme with roughly crushed pieces of graham crackers.
- Top with 1/2 c of semi sweet chocolate chips (or hershey bar pieces for a more classic touch).
- Top everything with the remaining 1/3 of the chilled dough. This will not completely cover the top of the bars. Instead, scoop dough into your hand. Press it into a flat disk and place around the pan. This is similar to topping a fruit cobbler with biscuit dough. This is done so the filling pushes through. Top with the remaining chocolate chips if desired.
- Bake in a 350F (177 C) oven for 25-32 minutes or until golden brown with set edges pulling slightly from the edge of the pan. At 25-28 minutes, the edges will be baked and the center will be slighlty underbaked. This is my prefered way. For more well baked bars, bake 28-32 minutes.
- Cool pan on a cooling rack for 45-60 minutes. Bars are cool enough to eat at 30 minutes, but they will not be firm enough to lift out of the pan until closer to an hour. Using the sling, remove bars from the pan, slice and enjoy!
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