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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  1. Posted November 19, 2010 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    This sounds fantastic! I am loving all the spices in this recipe!

  2. Posted November 19, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    These look delish..I love pumpkin and cream cheese combination.

  3. Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I have a can of pumpkin I wanted to use over the weekend. I was planning on creating some form of my own recipe…But last time I tooled around with a can of pumpkin, no recipe books and an oven, the end result wasn’t as good as it looked. And these do sound delicious! So I’m definitely keeping this one in mind for the weekend.

  4. Marie
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Can you tell us what the original recipe called for instead of applesauce?

  5. Posted November 19, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Oh my, these are over the top!! i love the maple infused frosting too!! Your photos are incredible!

  6. Posted November 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    These look awesome! Moist and frosted, then gilded with crunchy nuts to boot.

  7. Mara
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Marie, the original recipe called for 1 cup oil. I substituted 1/2 cup applesauce and reduced the amount of oil to 1/2 cup.

  8. Posted November 21, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    The photo is perfect. You’ve made me want to run into the kitchen and bake these for breakfast. :)

  9. Posted November 23, 2010 at 1:29 am | Permalink

    oh wow these look over the top delicious! Very tempting :)

  10. S
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    When it says “1/4 Pure Maple Syrup”, do you mean 1/4 of a cup? Wanted to make sure before I made them!

  11. Mara
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    S, yes it should be 1/4 cup maple syrup. Just fixed it in the recipe, sorry about that!

  12. Posted December 2, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Now these look scrumptious! I really could go for one of these right now!

  13. Posted December 7, 2010 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    i’m usually not very fond of pumpkin but i don’t know what it is this year but i’ve actually grown to really like it.

  14. Posted December 7, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    oh my goodness, these look so good. i lovelovelove pumpkin bars!

  15. Posted December 17, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    and just when i thought I had had enough pumpkin… they look incredible!

  16. Posted February 19, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Those bars look divine! What a wonderful combination.



  17. Posted February 21, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I’ve only just come across your blog. The pictures are gorgeous, and the recipes look delicious. I can’t wait to give this one a go. Hope to read more soon.

  18. Sally
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    This looks great! But can I substitute the cane sugar and wheat flour for all purpose flour and normal sugar? Would that change the recipe too much?

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