The Food Nerd’s Acorn Squash Bars

acorn The Food Nerds Acorn Squash Bars

Hello all, long time no, uh.. nothin. I’m sure I’ve used that exact phrase here before, but it has yet again been a too-long hiatus since my last post. Sorry! Anyway, today I spent another fun ass hour with my homey Dan Rodricks, a rare Tuesday appearance on the second hour of his show on WYPR. The subject was Thanksgiving dishes in general, but Dan was pretty taken by the dessert I brought along, essentially pumpkin pie, with my EZ crumb crust, and with acorn squash instead of pumpkin (in the above photo, it’s on the right, the more yellow one).

I’d experimented last year for citypaper with butternut, but it didn’t turn out so well. The important advantage of acorn over pumpkin is that it’s readily available year-round, and it seems to work better in sweet applications better than the more savory butternut. Indeed, I just made a batch of hobak jook (recipe will be posted shortly), which is really just squash puree, but in Korea it’s made with something called dan hobak (literal transalation: “sweet squash”). Anyway dan hobak looks almost exactly like acorn squash we find here, and though the Korean vegetable is naturally much sweeter and orange-er, acorn squash is an excellent stand-in with the help of some added sugar. So enough yappin, here’s the recipe, or you could also just go here for my more in-depth pumpkin pie recipe from last year’s citypaper article, except of course substitute acorn squash for pumpkin. Duh.

Food Nerd’s Acorn Squash Bars

(btw the name was Dan’s idea)


2 acorn squash

2 eggs

1/2 can condensed milk

a bit of milk or water to moisten

1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1/4 tsp ground black cardamom

a few drops of orange essential oil

1/4 stick butter

maybe 10 gingersnaps (non-iced)

some chopped pecans

salt and sugar to taste


1. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds, then halve again to form quarters

2. Roast on a sheet or shallow pan in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until squash is tender

3. While waiting, pulverize the gingersnaps into a pretty fine powder. Gingersnaps are really freakin durable, so you’ll need a tool, food processor is best but mortar and pestle or even strong paper bag and a mallet will work. Combine with pecans in a mixing bowl.

4. Grease a 9 x 9 baking dish (or if you’d rather call it pie, a 9″ pie plate) with the 1/4 stick of butter, then put butter into a small saucepan over low heat. When butter has melted, add paprika, cook for 15 seconds,¬† then add to gingersnap mixture.

5. Combine butter and gingersnap crumbs thoroughly, then press into baking dish or pie pan to form a crust.

6. When squash is done, remove to a bowl and allow to cool, covered. Leave the oven at 375.

7. While waiting for squash to cool, par-bake the crust – place baking dish in oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until you start to smell it, then remove and allow to cool.

8. When squash is cool, peel carefully with a sharp knife, and place in a food processor with eggs, condensed milk, cardomom, and orange oil. Begin pureeing, adding milk/water a tiny bit at a time, until it just begins to liquefy. Add sugar ad salt to taste, and continue to pure until smooth.

9. Pour mixture into the baking dish, wiggle and tap a bit to even out mixture, and place into the oven (should still be at 375). Cook for about 30 minutes, but start checking on it at 25 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center pulls out dry, it’s done.


-Pureeing the squash in a blender seems to whip in too much air and makes the pie too loose imo. If you don’t have a fodd processor, I guess you could mash it thoroughly by hand but I fear this will leave too many of the long fibers intact. Mortar and pestle might work too.

-You’ll notice I don’t use the usual pumpkin spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, nor do I even add vanilla. This is just me protesting against the overly spiced so called “pumpkin” flavored stuff they sell in stores. This way you really taste the sweet squashiness more. Either way I’m sure is good.

-You can also boil the squash, which is in fact faster, but it seems like roasting noticeably enhances flavor, what with the Maillard reactions and all.

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One Response to “The Food Nerd’s Acorn Squash Bars”

  1. Bob

    I think the closest you’ll find to the Korean squash that’s readily available is the Kabocha squash; it looks very similar. They’re sweeter and less stringy than acorn squash. If you can get “Buttercup” that would probably be quite similar in texture and flavor as well.

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