I hope you all had a wonderful first day of autumn over the weekend! I know I did, and now that autumn is officially here, I’m excited to share one of my first pumpkin recipes of the season. I wax poetic about my love of fall every year, from the cool, crisp mornings, colorful leaves, jeans and hoodies, football, and cups of hot apple cider, not to mention the fact that I’m that crazy person who starts putting up fall decorations mid-August – sad but true. Today’s recipe is a combination of my pumpkin shortbread recipe and those millionaire shortbread bars that you can find all over the Internet. For the caramel layer in mine, I followed the recipe for the caramel layer in Jamie’s Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars, because her method was of caramel-making was so easy. Seriously. I’ve always been a little intimidated by it, but if you have a microwave and a whisk, you can make it! And of course, instead of chocolate on top of the traditional millionaire shortbread bars, I had to take my version over the top on the sweet/salty chart by topping them with some crushed pretzels while the caramel layer was still warm. I hope you enjoy them, and happy autumn!
For the pumpkin cookie layer:
- 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 5 Tbsp pumpkin puree
- 10 Tbsp butter, cut into 1″ pieces
For the caramel layer:
- 12 Tbsp butter
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 Tbsp agave
For the topping:
- 1 cup crushed pretzels
To make the pumpkin cookie layer, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray an 8″ square baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin, and butter. Stir on low with the paddle attachment. When the dough forms into a ball, remove and press into the prepared dish.
Pierce with a fork and bake 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 degrees.
Bake 30-40 minutes longer or until light golden brown. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely.
To make the caramel, in a deep microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Stir in the condensed milk and agave. Whisk until well-combined. Heat in the microwave 7 minutes until boiling, stirring every 30 seconds. DO NOT leave unattended because it can boil over. The caramel is ready when thickened and light golden brown.
Pour the hot caramel over the cooled cookie layer.
Sprinkle the crushed pretzels over the caramel layer. Allow the bars to cool completely.
Once set, cut the bars into pieces. Store in the refrigerator…best served straight from the fridge!