I married my husband about 12 years ago. During our engagement a good friend of mine named Rene Bourgeois gave me a cookbook that has since become dog-eared from so much use. It was called, "Heartland Baking." I'm not certain that the book is in print any longer, however, I have been able to find numerous copies on ebay, half.com, and amazon.
Why is this cookbook so amazing?
Well, let's just say that every single thing that I have ever baked from this cookbook has made me want to give up all of the other food groups on the pyramid. I just want to sit at the top of the pyramid and eat from the "sparingly" pinnacle. I have been baking from the cookbook for 12 years now and there is not a bad recipe in the bunch. You could call it the "cook's illustrated" of midwest baking. Seriously.
If you shopped at Rite-Aid this week and purchased some canned pumpkin and evaporated milk then all you really need to complete the magic circle of pumpkin pie bars is yellow cake mix. You should have the rest of the staples in your pantry. I highly recommend that you make your own whipped cream. Just whip some up and add a little vanilla and sugar to taste and you've got something really happy going on in your house this Thanksgiving.
PS - no candles were harmed in the creation of the pumpkin aroma that filled my house after baking these beauties.
1 package 2-layer-size yellow cake mix
1/2 c butter, melted and cooled
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 5 oz can (or 2/3 c) evaporated milk
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 T sugar
2 T butter, softened
Pumpkin pie spice, as follows:
1 T cinnamon
1 t ginger
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t nutmeg
1. Combine dry cake mix, melted butter, and ONE egg. Beat until combined. SET ASIDE ONE CUP of the cake-mix mixture.
2. Spread remaining cake-mix mixture in an ungreased 13x9x2 baking pan. Press to form an even crust.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the remaining eggs, the pumpkin, evaporated milk, brown sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. Pour pumpkin mixture over the crust in prepared pan.
4. Combine the reserved cake mix mixture, the sugar, the 2 T softened butter and the cinnamon. Dot evenly over the pumpkin mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted neart the center comes out clean.
5. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into triangles or squares. Serve with whipped cream with pumpkin pie spice whipped in or sprinkled on top.