The easiest solution was these: Pumpkin bars. Easy to throw together, and generally popular with everyone (apart, perhaps, from anyone with a dairy allergy). I first had them when a friend brought some along to another playgroup and immediately asked for the recipe. I'll warn you though, it's Paula Deen....
She's made some not-so-great choices, I know, but she does have some good recipes. Well, I've heard she does, I think I've only tried this one and maybe one other one sometime. I did once gag when I looked at a few of her other ones. So...much...oil...and...sugar...
Speaking of which, you start this one off with some oil and sugar. And this is what it looks like when you've finally run out of your huge Costco bag of sugar and need to throw in some brown sugar.
Some Lidl eggs went in . Then a whole can of pumpkin. I really like that the recipe uses a whole can, so I don't have a partial can taking up space in my fridge/freezer, demanding I organise its use before it grows something/gets frostbite. Alternatively, you could steam, puree, and drain your lantern after hallowe'en and use roughly the same amount as a can of Libby's. Your choice!
Last, but not least, in went some flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Costco cinnamon is the best. Really. It's amazing. Go get some now. NOW.
Then in it went into my lined 9 X 13 pan. I love this pan, it makes American recipes possible on a regular basis.
It came out looking like this, then sank a bit, but I didn't care because the knife came out clean which means no one will get food poisoning.
The icing was a simple mix of a tub of cream cheese (about 180g I think), with roughly the same amount of butter (more butter is required in the UK as we can't get firm blocks of cream cheese here), a splash of vanilla, and perhaps just short of a cup of powdered sugar (though the recipe called for 2 cups) all put into a food processor at room temperature and pulsed until smooth-ish. I then put it in a freezer bag, cut off the corner, and squirted blobs onto the cooled squares.
The staff said I was most welcome to bring these in again, anytime. And another friend who also sampled a portion asked for the recipe too, so Paula Deen, we salute you.
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15 -ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 -ounce package cream cheese, softened
7 oz cup butter , softened
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180C
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.
To make the icing: Combine ingredients in food processor and pulse until smooth.