Pumpkin bars with maple cream cheese frosting

There was one delightful fall day a few years ago when I came to work and discovered a tray of pumpkin bars, baked by the wife of my former boss. I’d never experienced anything quite like them before, and they instantly became one of my favorite baked goods. Ever. This is big people. As you’ve probably noticed, we’re not really strangers to dessert around here.

Last fall I tried to replicate them without a recipe. Sad times. These were not anything like Tami’s pumpkin bars. So finally, I swallowed my pride and asked my former boss, John for the recipe. They kindly provided it. And, an entire tray of bars from her. Yum. This year I’ve fared much better with the original recipe. Of course, I couldn’t quite leave it alone and made a few adjustments including applesauce, wheat, a few more spices, nuts and an adapted maple cream cheese frosting I’ve made before.

I’m not quite sure how to categorize these things? Bar, apparently. However, they’re almost more like a shorty sheet cake. Whatever they are, they work. And, they are perfect for fall. Especially if you can’t take making another pumpkin pie over Thanksgiving this year.


    adapted from Tami
    makes approx. 24 bars

  • Ingredients

  • pumpkin bars
  • 1-3/4 cups pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 15 oz. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • maple cream cheese frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (use 2-1/4 cups for a thicker frosting)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Directions

  • make the pumpkin bars

    Lightly grease a 10-inch x 15-inch jelly roll pan. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and pumpkin puree. In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Pour batter in jelly roll pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place pan on a cooling rack and cool bars completely.

    make the maple cream cheese frosting

    In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the cream cheese and butter. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. Mix in maple syrup. Refrigerate frosting for at least 30 minutes. This step is important. From experience, if you don’t refrigerate the frosting, it’ll slide right off the bars. After frosting is chilled, ice the bars. Sprinkle pecans on top of the frosted bars.

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