Autumn has always been a fickle season. With autumn comes fresh-picked apples and butternut squash and trees swathed in beautiful fiery colors, but then there’s also sweltering days and frigid nights and those weird indian summers that fool you into thinking maybe this year, winter won’t be so cold.
Alas, in Boston, the winters are always cold.
Autumn this year has been particularly confusing. One day it was so incredibly hot that not even the professors couldn’t last until the end of class, another day, so cold, we had to turn on the heater. Just today, I was wearing shorts to the supermarket, but by nighttime, I had to change into jeans and a sweater because the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees.
In between the constant wardrobe changes and the insane amount of schoolwork, I’ve been savoring one of the quintessential symbols of autumn – pumpkins. A couple weeks ago, I made pumpkin lasagna, which came out delicious, but massively unphotogenic. And yesterday night, I made some fantastic, super easy snickerdoodle pumpkin bars. They’re sweet and soft and completely satisfying.
Speaking of pumpkin, it’s funny, canning has really made traditionally seasonal vegetables easily accessible at all times of the year, and yet, I rarely think to use pumpkin unless it’s autumn. I love pumpkin – it’s savory and sweet and hearty – but eating a pumpkin pie in spring just does not bring the same joy as a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Trust me, I tried last year. It felt almost sacrilegious.
Despite it all, I still love autumn. If I had to sum up my affection for autumn in two words, I’d probably have to go with “apple cider.” But in all seriousness, despite the few days of intense heat and the many days of dead brown leaves and biting cold wind, those few beautiful days with the cool breeze and the red-orange trees make it all worth it.
Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Bars (adapted from Life and Kitchen) – makes 2 8×8 pans
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves)
1 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (I used a whole 15oz can of pumpkin purée)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease the two pans.
In a stand mixer (or just a bowl with a hand mixer), cream together brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix in the baking soda and salt, then the flour. Pour into the prepared pans, then press into an even layer.
For the pumpkin layer, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and pour over the snickerdoodle mixture in an even layer.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the pumpkin layer. Bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 33-40 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.