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Pumpkin Bars

These tasty Pumpkin Bars are rich and moist with a cake-like texture and just the right amount of pumpkin spice. They're piled high with a luscious, smooth pumpkin-spiced cream cheese frosting.
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword pumpkin bars
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 25 bars
Calories 212kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $7.12

Equipment

  • 10x-15-inch jelly-roll pan (other pans not recommended)
  • Parchment paper

Ingredients

Pumpkin Bars

  • 1 can (15 oz.) canned pumpkin (Libby's recommended)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups dark brown sugar, tightly packed (or light -- See Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour Note 2
  • 1 teaspoon each: baking soda, fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons each: ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice Note 3
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese (brick-style, not tub)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 10x-15-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal. (Fold down the overhang making a crease so it doesn't fall into the bars as they bake.) Set aside. Pull out the butter and cream cheese for the frosting so both ingredients can get to room temperature.
  • WET INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl, briskly whisk together the entire can of pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, dark brown sugar, and white sugar until ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: In another large bowl, whisk together the flour (measured correctly -- Note 2), baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
  • COMBINE: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a spatula to scrape every bit of wet into the dry. Mix with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until completely combined and integrated. Don't over-mix.
  • BAKE: Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth into one even layer and bake for 27-33 minutes or until cake barely pulls away from the edges and/or a toothpick when inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Watch carefully and don't over-bake. Remove and cool the pan on a wire cooling rack until completely cooled, about 1 hour.
  • FROSTING: Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large bowl and a hand mixer), beat the softened cream cheese and butter until combined and smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until incorporated, it will seem like it's not coming together, but keep mixing! Finally add in the salt, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice and beat until the frosting is soft and creamy. Avoid over-beating the mixture or you'll get whipped frosting. (If the frosting does happen to be too wet, add a bit more powdered sugar; if it is too dry, add a touch of milk or cream.)
  • FROST BARS: Dollop big spoonfuls of frosting on top of the completely cooled bars. Use a table knife to gently and slowly coax the frosting into an even layer and then smooth the top.
  • SERVE: Use the overhang to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares and serve or refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve. To get clean slices, run a knife under hot water for a few seconds, wipe to dry, make 1 slice, and repeat.
  • STORAGE: Frosted Pumpkin Bars will stay good for about 1 week in the fridge (individually wrapped or as a whole in an airtight container). Freeze leftover unfrosted bars by wrapping each piece tightly with plastic freezer wrap and then placing individual pieces in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to three months. Individual pieces defrost in about an hour at room temperature and take slightly longer to defrost in the refrigerator. We don't recommend freezing and thawing cream cheese frosting; it has a tendency to get watery.

Video

Notes

Note 1: Dark brown sugar: Both light and dark brown sugar contain molasses, but dark brown sugar has more. Because of the increased amount of molasses, dark brown sugar has a darker and deeper color with a stronger flavor. Dark brown sugar is typically sold right next to or nearby light brown sugar and powdered sugar in the grocery store. The two look similar, yet dark brown sugar is darker overall in color. Light brown sugar can be used in a pinch!
Note 2: Measuring flour: If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour, you will pack in way too much flour (which will result in pumpkin bars with the wrong texture). To accurately measure the flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup until it's overfilled. Then use the back of a table knife to level the measuring cup at the top. You’ll have a perfect flour measurement now!
Note 3: Pumpkin pie spice: This is a delicious combination of warming spices (including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice). It can be found among other spices in the grocery store, or you can make your own!

Nutrition

Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 95mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 2803IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg