Pumpkin Bars (with cream cheese frosting)
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These Pumpkin Bars are a pumpkin cookie turned into pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting!
Thanks to Challenge Dairy, I’m sharing our new favorite bar cookie with you. We couldn’t stop eating them!
My life is such a contradiction in action: one day I’m making pumpkin bars and the next I’m roasting s’mores on our fire pit. I guess that’s the life of a food blogger!
We finally finished our backyard renovation, just in time for fall. If you’re thinking “but wouldn’t it be nice to have the finished backyard in summer?” then you probably don’t live in Sacramento. It’s too hot here (for me) to even go outside June-August. Finally by September the evenings cool off and we can head outside for dinner or fireside chats.
So even though we’re hosting a backyard barbecue this weekend and roasting more s’mores, I’m still all about the pumpkin inside in my kitchen. It’s September, which means fall baking is in full swing!
One of my favorite things to make with pumpkin are my pumpkin cookies. I’ve stuffed them with caramel and turned them into blondies, but I’ve never made them the way pumpkin was intended to be served: with cream cheese frosting.
There’s something about the spices in a pumpkin dessert or cake roll that just requires cream cheese frosting, don’t you think? These bars have all the things that you love about fall: pumpkin and spices and cream cheese frosting.
And, surprise: these aren’t pumpkin cake bars. These are Pumpkin COOKIE Bars!!
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin cake, but when I think of a pumpkin bar I think of cookie bars. These are like sugar cookie bars or chocolate chip cookie bars, but they start with my perfect pumpkin cookie recipe!
As always when I’m ramping up for fall and holiday baking, I stock up on my favorite butter and cream cheese: Challenge! I’ve talked before about how this brand means so much to me; it’s all I ate growing up and it’s the only butter my parents buy. Challenge is a cooperative of California family-owned dairies; it’s the second largest butter brand and, yes, it’s available nationally!
Plus, the butter tastes good and the cream cheese is silky smooth and perfect for baking, and they come from happy cows not treated with growth hormones, artificial preservatives, or dyes. (Follow Challenge on Instagram for fun ideas on how to use their butter and cream cheese!)
Let’s talk a little bit about pumpkin cookies, okay? Just a little science behind the recipe:
- My recipe uses just 1/3 cup pumpkin puree but don’t worry, the flavor is there.
- Besides, the pumpkin “flavor” you’re so used to eating in desserts isn’t really pumpkin – it’s the spices! The recipe lists out which spices to use, or if you make my DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice you can use that instead.
- The recipe only uses one egg yolk, not a full egg. Pumpkin is wet and changes the texture of the cookie, so I had to adjust the moisture somewhere.
- This recipe starts with melted butter. I love the caramelized flavor melted butter adds to this cookie recipe. Plus, by using melted butter you can just use a wooden spoon (no mixer needed) if you want.
Easy Pumpkin Bars with cream cheese frosting are the perfect pumpkin dessert for fall…or all year long!
When it comes to frosting, cream cheese frosting is such an easy one to make. The flavor is unparalleled! This frosting recipe uses 8 ounces of cream cheese to 4 tablespoons of butter so it’s a thick and creamy frosting. Just make sure that both your butter and cream cheese are room temperature to avoid lumps!
My secret cream cheese frosting ingredient: heavy whipping cream. I beat in a little bit at the end to up the creaminess factor of the frosting. It’s heavenly!
For the bars:
- 1/2 cup Challenge Unsalted Butter — melted
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13” pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place melted butter, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a strand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (You can also use a hand mixer or a wooden spoon.) Mix until combined. Continue mixing and add the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Add the baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly mix in flour until a smooth dough forms.
- Press dough into prepared pan. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until just browned around the edges and the teeniest bit jiggly in the center (these are better slightly under baked as they finish baking while they cool).
- Make the frosting: beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla and mix in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until smooth. Slowly mix in cream until you get a spreadable consistency.
- Frost the bars as desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze in a single layer for up to one month.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 bar) — Calories: 338, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 51mg, Sodium: 158mg, Potassium: 58mg, Carbohydrates: 51g, Sugar: 39g, Protein: 2g, Vitamin A: 1280%, Vitamin C: 0.2%, Calcium: 31%, Iron: 0.9%
Triple Chip Pumpkin Cookies are the perfect pumpkin cookie recipe!
These bars are also great with NUTELLA inside! Get the Pumpkin Nutella Bars recipe here.
Another great fall recipe: Apple Crumb Cookies!
This post has been sponsored by Challenge Dairy as part of my ongoing ambassadorship. All opinions are 100% my own.
**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**