Pumpkin Mousse Shortbread Bars

Pumpkin Mousse Shortbread Bars
These bars are so easy to put together and, since they’re best served chilled, they can be made well in advance. The pumpkin mousse is soft and delicate; the shortbread is buttery and crisp, leaving a lovely lingering taste of fall.


4 oz. butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tsp. cold butter
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
¼ cup almond flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 Tbsp. cold water
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/3 cup salted caramel sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
½ tsp. pumpkin spice or allspice
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
Fresh whipped cream for serving


• Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

• Press parchment paper into the bottom of a 11-by-17-inch baking pan, leaving some overhang on all sides.

• First, make the shortbread layer: In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the 4 ounces of room temperature butter and ½ cup of sugar until fluffy and creamy.

• Use a spatula to stir in the flours, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

• Press the dough into the baking pan as evenly as possible. Poke holes into the dough with a fork.

• Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Set aside.

• Next, make the pumpkin layer: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and set aside to bloom.

• Meanwhile, in a clean bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream to soft – not stiff – peaks.

• In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin purée, salted caramel, bourbon (if using), remaining sugar, remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract and pumpkin spice together.

• Heat the softened gelatin in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, or until dissolved. Stir the gelatin into the pumpkin mixture.

• Gently fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture until combined.

• Spread the pumpkin layer onto the shortbread base and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

• Once chilled, use the parchment overhang to lift the mixture out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Use a clean knife to cut into 9 to 12 squares, depending on size.

• Finally, make the chocolate layer: Melt the chocolate and remaining teaspoon of cold butter together until combined. Let cool slightly. Smear atop each bar in an even layer.

• Serve with whipped cream or chill in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.