Traditions are nice, but it can also be really fun to break them. One Thanksgiving, I had family in town from out of the country and I made the wackiest feast—grilled turkey with Korean barbecue sauce, roasted sweet potatoes with Indian spices, and these fantastic Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Pie Squares—they have a delicious graham cracker crust and a dense, sweet, pumpkin-y filling. The dulce de leche caramel adds an extra dimension of complexity and decadence.
Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Pie Squares
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 box (14.4 ounces) graham crackers
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (not canned pumpkin pie mix)
- 1⅓ cups buttermilk
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups (about 14 ounces) dulce de leche, homemade (see box above) or store-bought
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10 x 16-inch rimmed baking sheet with the tablespoon of room-temperature butter and set aside.
- Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and process into fine crumbs. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, pulse 2 times, and add the melted butter. Pulse until the mixture is well combined and holds together when pressed, about eight (1-second) pulses. Turn the crumbs out onto the prepared baking sheet and, with the bottom of a measuring cup, press them to the edges of the pan in a solid even layer. (Don’t worry about working the crumbs up the sides of the pan.) Bake the crust until it feels firm and somewhat dry on the surface, about 8 minutes.
- Wipe out the food processor with a damp paper towel. To the processor, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and process until smooth. Add the pumpkin, buttermilk, and eggs and process until well combined.
- With a butter knife or an offset spatula, evenly spread the dulce de leche over the crust. Pour the pumpkin filling over the top, shaking the pan to disperse it evenly.
- Bake the squares until the center jiggles only slightly when tapped, about 30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing crosswise into 28 bars. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. The bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (the crust will become softer the longer the bars are stored in the fridge).