October 30, 2012

Delicata squash and hazelnut shortbread bars

I swear that we are eating real food that isn't desserts, even though my recent blog posts don't seem to reflect that... I've been making a lot of desserts lately for family gatherings and different dinners. We currently have 36 winter squash in our basement as part of our winter stock-up. Delicata squash are one of my favorite winter squash. They have such a different flavor that reminds me of butternut squash combined with sweet potatoes and corn. In addition to its unique flavor, it has a texture that is drier than most winter squash. I almost always use and see sugar pumpkins and/or butternut squash in sweet treats, so I wanted to try incorporating delicatas into a dessert. I found a recipe for pumpkin bars that I used as a guide. I was hoping that the unique flavor of delicata squash would stand-up in a dessert and not just taste like a pumpkin pie. These bars were delicious, and while I did taste a bit of sweet potato flavor, most people probably wouldn't taste a difference between this and pumpkin... Oh well...

This recipe will make about 16 bars depending on how small/large you cut them. They are really a lovely fall dessert and would be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving dinner or as a Halloween treat. As I'm writing this, we are beginning to get our portion of the "Frankenstorm" and I think it's the perfect time to snack on one of these with a hot cup of tea and hunker down for the night...

Delicata squash and hazelnut shortbread bars
for the shortbread:
1/2 cup roughly choped hazelnuts
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing

for the filling:
2 large eggs
1-3/4 cups delicata squash puree (from about 3 delicata squash)*
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9"x13" baking dish.

Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the remaining shortbread ingredients and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Pour into the baking dish and press firmly into an even layer. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the shortbread is set and just beginning to turn golden. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Then whisk in the squash, brown sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt until well combined and then slowly whisk in the cream. Slowly pour the mixture on top of the shortbread and spread into an even layer.

Bake until the filling is set in the middle and just begins to turn golden, about 28-32 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Serve room temperature or cold. Refrigerate once cool.

*To make the puree, simply halve the squash and scrape out the seeds. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until you can pierce them with a fork. Let cool. Scrape the flesh away from the skin into a food processor. Puree until smooth.

I've linked up this recipe over at Eats Well With Others to celebrate 12 Weeks of Winter Squash also hosted by Girlichef. I'm excited to participate in this over the next 12 weeks to help use up some of those 36 winter squash in our basement and feature one of my favorite cooking ingredients in more recipes.

What was I cooking one year ago?: maple-glazed pumpkin cake
Two years ago?: beef and Guinness pie


  1. that sounds delicious! love the use of delicata in these bars with the hazelnut crust :)

  2. The huzelnut crust in combination with delicata squash makes these bars totally decadent and delicious!

  3. I have never had that kind of squash, very interesting!

  4. These bars look great, love both layers...perfect for this time of the year Amy.
    Have a wonderful week :)

  5. These look delicious! Hazelnuts with fall-spiced squash sounds like a delightful combination

  6. How delicious, I will need to try these soon.

  7. Mmmm, these look wonderful! I love baking with all kinds of squash!

  8. I love that you used delicata in a dessert! They look scrumptious! I hope the storm didn't hit you too hard!

  9. I forget that there are so many varieties of squash. I need to remember delicata. These bars look delicious.. Thanks for sharing.


  10. 36 kinds!?!? Wow. Well, I for one cannot wait to see what becomes of all of those. I love this application, I can just imagine that delicate, nuanced flavor pairs so well with the hazelnut. Absolutely delicious.

    1. No, not 36 kinds - 36 in total (probably about 8 kinds). I wonder how many kinds of winter squash exist??

  11. Hey, I'm totally okay with more pumpkin-infused desserts! And I'm majorly enamored with these bars. Delicatas are one of my favorites as well!

  12. i'm a big fan of delicata squash, though i haven't used them in a dessert before. these sound really terrific and perfectly seasonal! :)

  13. Squash and shortbread? TALK ABOUT AWESOME.

  14. what a creative way to use squash!

  15. This is such a unique dessert, and it sounds incredible! I really love the hazelnut shortbread crust.

  16. Mm yummy, sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing this.



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