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Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting: The Perfect Fall Treat

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Pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting are the quintessential fall dessert, combining the warm flavors of pumpkin and spices with the rich, tangy sweetness of cream cheese frosting. This delightful treat is perfect for any occasion, from casual family gatherings to festive holiday parties. In this detailed blog post, we’ll explore how to make these scrumptious bars step-by-step, provide helpful cooking notes, and offer variations to suit different dietary preferences, including keto and low-carb options. Plus, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions to ensure your pumpkin bars turn out perfectly every time.

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Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Bars

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ can pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cloves

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Whole pecans for decorating

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Pumpkin Bars

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree and oil, mixing until well combined.
  3. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cloves.
  4. Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  5. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool: Allow the pumpkin bars to cool completely in the baking dish.

Step 2: Prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Beat Cream Cheese and Butter: In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add Vanilla: Mix in the vanilla extract until well incorporated.

Step 3: Frost the Pumpkin Bars

  1. Frost: Once the pumpkin bars are completely cooled, spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top.
  2. Decorate: Garnish with whole pecans for an elegant touch.
  3. Serve: Cut into bars and serve. Enjoy the rich, spiced pumpkin flavor paired with the creamy, sweet frosting.

Cook’s Notes

  • Pumpkin Puree: Use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling, for this recipe.
  • Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature for a smooth frosting.
  • Spice Variations: Feel free to adjust the spices to your taste. Nutmeg and allspice can also be great additions.

Variations

1. Pumpkin Nut Bars

  • Ingredients: Add 1 cup of chopped nuts (such as walnuts or pecans) to the pumpkin bar batter.
  • Instructions: Fold the nuts into the batter just before pouring it into the baking dish.

2. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

  • Ingredients: Add 1 cup of chocolate chips to the pumpkin bar batter.
  • Instructions: Fold the chocolate chips into the batter just before pouring it into the baking dish.

3. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars

  • Ingredients: Substitute the all-purpose flour with a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend.
  • Instructions: Follow the same steps, ensuring all other ingredients are gluten-free.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions

Keto Pumpkin Bars

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 eggs
    • ½ cup erythritol (or other keto-friendly sweetener)
    • ½ can pumpkin puree
    • ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
    • 1 cup almond flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp ground ginger
    • ¼ tsp cloves

Keto Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 package of cream cheese, softened
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ½ cup powdered erythritol (or other keto-friendly sweetener)

Instructions

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and erythritol until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin puree and melted coconut oil, mixing until well combined.
  3. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, and cloves.
  4. Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients: Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  5. Bake: Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread it evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool: Allow the pumpkin bars to cool completely in the baking dish.
  7. Prepare Frosting: In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla extract and powdered erythritol until well incorporated.
  8. Frost and Serve: Once the pumpkin bars are completely cooled, spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top. Garnish with whole pecans for an elegant touch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I use fresh pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin puree?

Yes, you can use fresh pumpkin. Roast or steam the pumpkin, then puree it in a blender until smooth. Make sure to drain any excess water for a similar consistency to canned pumpkin puree.

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2. How should I store pumpkin bars?

Store pumpkin bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

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3. Can I make this recipe dairy-free?

Yes, you can make this recipe dairy-free by using dairy-free cream cheese and butter alternatives for the frosting. Additionally, replace the oil in the bar mixture with a dairy-free option like coconut oil.

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4. How can I make this recipe vegan?

To make this recipe vegan, use flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water for each egg) as an egg substitute. Also, use dairy-free cream cheese and butter alternatives for the frosting, and replace the oil in the bar mixture with a plant-based oil like coconut oil.

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5. Can I use a different type of frosting?

Absolutely! You can use any frosting you like, such as a simple powdered sugar glaze, buttercream, or even a maple cream cheese frosting for an extra fall-inspired twist.

6. What is the best way to serve pumpkin bars?

Pumpkin bars are best served chilled or at room temperature. They make a great dessert or snack, especially when paired with a cup of coffee or tea.

7. Can I add spices or ingredients to customize the flavor?

Yes, you can adjust the spices to your liking or add other ingredients like nutmeg, allspice, or chopped nuts to the batter. Feel free to get creative and make this recipe your own.

8. How can I prevent the frosting from becoming too runny?

Make sure your cream cheese and butter are well softened but not melted. Beat them together until smooth before adding the vanilla and sweetener. If the frosting is still too runny, you can add more powdered sugar (or powdered erythritol for keto) until you reach the desired consistency.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting are a delightful and versatile dessert perfect for any fall occasion. This easy recipe combines the warm flavors of pumpkin and spices with the creamy sweetness of cream cheese frosting, creating a treat that is sure to please. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or try one of the variations, these bars are bound to become a favorite. With tips for making keto and low-carb versions, as well as answers to common questions, you’re well-equipped to create the perfect batch of pumpkin bars. Enjoy the process of making and sharing these delicious bars with your loved ones!

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